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The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Memoirs of Napoleon--1799, v3

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Title: Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte, v3

Author: Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne

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His Private Secretary

Edited by R. W. Phipps
Colonel, Late Royal Artillery


Chapter XV. To Chapter XXVI. 1799



Establishment of a divan in each Egyptian province--Desaix in Upper

Egypt--Ibrahim Bey beaten by Bonaparte at Balehye'h--Sulkowsky
wounded--Disaster at Abonkir--Dissatisfaction and murmurs of the
army--Dejection of the General-in-Chief--His plan respecting Egypt
--Meditated descent upon England--Bonaparte's censure of the
Directory--Intercepted correspondence.

From the details I have already given respecting Bonaparte's plans for
colonising Egypt, it will be seen that his energy of mind urged him to
adopt anticipatory measures for the accomplishment of objects which were
never realised. During the short interval in which he sheathed his sword
he planned provisional governments for the towns and provinces occupied
by the French troops, and he adroitly contrived to serve the interests of
his army without appearing to violate those of the country. After he had
been four days at Cairo, during which time he employed himself in
examining everything, and consulting every individual from whom he could
obtain useful information, he published the following order:

9th Thermidor, year VI.



Art. 1. There shall be in each province of Egypt a divan, composed

of seven individuals, whose duty will be to superintend the
interests of the province; to communicate to me any complaints that
may be made; to prevent warfare among the different villages; to
apprehend and punish criminals (for which purpose they may demand
assistance from the French commandant); and to take every
opportunity of enlightening the people.

Art. 2. There shall be in each province an aga of the Janizaries,

maintaining constant communication with the French commandant. He
shall have with him a company of sixty armed natives, whom he may
take wherever he pleases, for the maintenance of good order,
subordination, and tranquillity.

Art. 3. There shall be in each province an intendant, whose

business will be to levy the miri, the feddam, and the other
contributions which formerly belonged to the Mamelukes, but which
now belong to the French Republic. The intendants shall have us
many agents as may be necessary.

Art. 4. The said intendant shall have a French agent to correspond

with the Finance Department, and to execute all the orders he may

While Bonaparte was thus actively taking measures for the organization of
the country,

--[Far more thoroughly and actively than those taken by the English
Government in 1882-3-4]--

General Desaix had marched into Upper Egypt in pursuit of Mourad Bey. We
learned that Ibrahim, who, next to Mourad, was the most influential of
the bays, had proceeded towards Syria, by the way of Belbeis and
Salehye'h. The General-in-Chief immediately determined to march in
person against that formidable enemy, and he left Cairo about fifteen
days after he had entered it. It is unnecessary to describe the well-
known engagement in which Bonaparte drove Ibrahim back upon El-Arish;
besides, I do not enter minutely into the details of battles, my chief
object being to record events which I personally witnessed.

At the battle of Salehye'h Bonaparte thought he had lost one of his

'aides de camp', Sulkowsky, to whom he was much attached, and who had
been with us during the whole of the campaign of Italy. On the field of
battle one object of regret cannot long engross the mind; yet, on his
return to Cairo, Bonaparte frequently spoke to me of Sulkowsky in terms
of unfeigned sorrow.

"I cannot," said he one day, "sufficiently admire the noble spirit and
determined courage of poor Sulkowsky." He often said that Sulkowsky
would have been a valuable aid to whoever might undertake the
resuscitation of Poland. Fortunately that brave officer was not killed
on that occasion, though seriously wounded. He was, however, killed
shortly after.

The destruction of the French squadron in the roads of Aboukir occurred

during the absence of the General-in-Chief. This event happened on the
1st of August. The details are generally known; but there is one
circumstance to which I cannot refrain from alluding, and which excited
deep interest at the time. This was the heroic courage of the son of
Casablanca, the captain of the 'Orient'. Casablanca was among the
wounded, and when the vessel was blown up his son, a lad of ten years of
age, preferred perishing with him rather than saving himself, when one of
the seamen had secured him the means of escape. I told the 'aide de
camp', sent by General Kleber, who had the command of Alexandria, that
the General-in-Chief was near Salehye'h. He proceeded thither
immediately, and Bonaparte hastened back to Cairo, a distance of about
thirty-three leagues.

In spite of any assertions that may have been made to the contrary, the
fact is, that as soon as the French troops set foot in Egypt, they were
filled with dissatisfaction, and ardently longed to return home.'

--['Erreurs' objects to this description of the complaints of the

army, but Savary (tome i. pp. 66, 67, and tome i. p. 89) fully
confirms it, giving the reason that the army was not a homogeneous
body, but a mixed force taken from Rome, Florence, Milan, Venice,
Genoa, and Marseilles; see also Thiers, tome v. p. 283. But the
fact is not singular. For a striking instance, in the days of the
Empire, of the soldiers in 1809, in Spain, actually threatening
Napoleon in his own hearing, see De Gonneville (tome i. pp. 190-
193): "The soldiers of Lapisse's division gave loud expression to
the most sinister designs against the Emperor's person, stirring up
each other to fire a shot at him, sad bandying accusations of
cowardice for not doing it." He heard it all as plainly as we did,
and seemed as if be did not care a bit for it, but "sent the
division into good quarters, when the men were as enthusiastic as
they were formerly mutinous." In 1796 d'Entraigues, the Bourbon spy,
reports, "As a general rule, the French soldier grumbles and is
discontented. He accuses Bonaparte of being a thief and a rascal.
But to-morrow the very same soldier will obey him blindly" (Iung's
Bonaparte, tome iii. p. 152).]--

The illusion of the expedition had disappeared, and only its reality
remained. What bitter murmuring have I not heard from Murat, Lannes,
Berthier, Bessieres, and others! Their complaints were, indeed, often so
unmeasured as almost to amount to sedition. This greatly vexed
Bonaparte, and drew from him severe reproaches and violent language.

--[Napoleon related at St. Helena that in a fit of irritation he

rushed among a group of dissatisfied generals, and said to one of
them, who was remarkable for his stature, "you have held seditious
language; but take care I do not perform my duty. Though you are
five feet ten inches high, that shall not save you from being
When the news arrived of the loss of the fleet, discontent increased.
All who had acquired fortunes under Napoleon now began to fear that they
would never enjoy them. All turned their thoughts to Paris, and its
amusements, and were utterly disheartened at the idea of being separated
from their homes and their friends for a period, the termination of which
it was impossible to foresee.

The catastrophe of Aboukir came like a thunderbolt upon the General-in-

Chief. In spite of all his energy and fortitude, he was deeply
distressed by the disasters which now assailed him. To the painful
feelings excited by the complaints and dejection of his companions in
arms was now added the irreparable misfortune of the burning of our
fleet. He measured the fatal consequences of this event at a single
glance. We were now cut off from all communication with France, and all
hope of returning thither, except by a degrading capitulation with an
implacable and hated enemy. Bonaparte had lost all chance of preserving
his conquest, and to him this was indeed a bitter reflection. And at
what a time did this disaster befall him? At the very moment when he was
about to apply for the aid of the mother-country.

From what General Bonaparte communicated to me previously to the 1st of

August, his object was, having once secured the possession of Egypt; to
return to Toulon with the fleet; then to send troops and provisions of
every kind to Egypt; and next to combine with the fleet all the forces
that could be supplied, not only by France, but by her allies, for the
purpose of attacking England. It is certain that previously to his
departure for Egypt he had laid before the Directory a note relative to
his plans. He always regarded a descent upon England as possible, though
in its result fatal, so long as we should be inferior in naval strength;
but he hoped by various manoeuvres to secure a superiority on one point.

His intention was to return to France. Availing himself of the departure

of the English fleet for the Mediterranean, the alarm excited by his
Egyptian expedition, the panic that would be inspired by his sudden
appearance at Boulogne, and his preparations against England, he hoped to
oblige that power to withdraw her naval force from the Mediterranean, and
to prevent her sending out troops to Egypt. This project was often in
his head. He would have thought it sublime to date an order of the day
from the ruins of Memphis, and three months later, one from London. The
loss of the fleet converted all these bold conceptions into mere romantic

When alone with me he gave free vent to his emotion. I observed to him
that the disaster was doubtless great, but that it would have been
infinitely more irreparable had Nelson fallen in with us at Malta, or had
he waited for us four-and-twenty hours before Alexandria, or in the open
sea. "Any one of these events," said I, "which were not only possible
but probable, would have deprived us of every resource. We are blockaded
here, but we have provisions and money. Let us then wait patiently to
see what the Directory will do for us."--"The Directory!" exclaimed he
angrily, "the Directory is composed of a set of scoundrels! they envy and
hate me, and would gladly let me perish here. Besides, you see how
dissatisfied the whole army is: not a man is willing to stay."

The pleasing illusions which were cherished at the outset of the

expedition vanished long before our arrival in Cairo. Egypt was no
longer the empire of the Ptolemies, covered with populous and wealthy
cities; it now presented one unvaried scene of devastation and misery.
Instead of being aided by the inhabitants, whom we had ruined, for the
sake of delivering them from the yoke of the beys, we found all against
us: Mamelukes, Arabs, and fellahs. No Frenchman was secure of his life
who happened to stray half a mile from any inhabited place, or the corps
to which he belonged. The hostility which prevailed against us and the
discontent of the army were clearly developed in the numerous letters
which were written to France at the time, and intercepted.

The gloomy reflections which at first assailed Bonaparte, were speedily

banished; and he soon recovered the fortitude and presence of mind which
had been for a moment shaken by the overwhelming news from Aboukir.
He, however, sometimes repeated, in a tone which it would be difficult to
describe, "Unfortunate Brueys, what have you done!"

I have remarked that in some chance observations which escaped Napoleon

at St. Helena he endeavoured to throw all the blame of the affair on
Admiral Brueys. Persons who are determined to make Bonaparte an
exception to human nature have unjustly reproached the Admiral for the
loss of the fleet.



The Egyptian Institute--Festival of the birth of Mahomet--Bonapartes

prudent respect for the Mahometan religion--His Turkish dress--
Djezzar, the Pasha of Acre--Thoughts of a campaign in Germany--Want
of news from France--Bonaparte and Madame Fours--The Egyptian
fortune-teller, M. Berthollet, and the Sheik El Bekri--The air
"Marlbrook"--Insurrection in Cairo--Death of General Dupuis--Death
of Sulkowsky--The insurrection quelled--Nocturnal executions--
Destruction of a tribe of Arabs--Convoy of sick and wounded--
Massacre of the French in Sicily--projected expedition to Syria--
Letter to Tippoo Saib.

The loss of the fleet convinced General Bonaparte of the necessity of

speedily and effectively organising Egypt, where everything denoted that
we should stay for a considerable time, excepting the event of a forced
evacuation, which the General was far from foreseeing or fearing. The
distance of Ibrahim Bey and Mourad Bey now left him a little at rest.
War, fortifications, taxation, government, the organization of the
divans, trade, art, and science, all occupied his attention. Orders and
instructions were immediately despatched, if not to repair the defeat, at
least to avert the first danger that might ensue from it. On the 21st of
August Bonaparte established at Cairo an institute of the arts and
sciences, of which he subsequently appointed me a member in the room of
M. de Sucy, who was obliged to return to France, in consequence of the
wound he received on board the flotilla in the Nile.

--[The Institute of Egypt was composed of members of the French

Institute, and of the men of science and artists of the commission
who did not belong to that body. They assembled and added to their
number several officers of the artillery and staff, and others who
bad cultivated the sciences and literature.

The Institute was established in one of the palaces of the bey's.

A great number of machines, and physical, chemical, and astronomical
instruments had been brought from France. They were distributed in
the different rooms, which were also successively filled with all
the curiosities of the country, whether of the animal, vegetable, or
mineral kingdom.

The garden of the palace became a botanical garden. A chemical

laboratory was formed at headquarters; Merthollet performed
experiments there several times every week, which Napoleon and a
great number of officers attended ('Memoirs of Napoleon')]--

In founding this Institute, Bonaparte wished to afford an example of his

ideas of civilisation. The minutes of the sittings of that learned body,
which have been printed, bear evidence of its utility, and of Napoleon's
extended views. The objects of tile Institute were the advancement and
propagation of information in Egypt, and the study and publication of all
facts relating to the natural history, trade, and antiquities of that
ancient country.

On the 18th Bonaparte was present at the ceremony of opening the dyke of
the canal of Cairo, which receives the water of the Nile when it reaches
the height fired by the Mequyas.

Two days after came the anniversary festival of the birth of Mahomet. At
this Napoleon was also present, in company with the sheik El Bekri,' who
at his request gave him two young Mamelukes, Ibrahim, and Roustan.

--[The General-in-Chief went to celebrate, the feast of the Prophet

at the house of the sheik El Bekri. The ceremony was began by the
recital of a kind of litany, containing the life of Mahomet from his
birth to his death. About a hundred sheiks, sitting in a circle, on
carpets, with their legs crossed, recited all the verses, swinging
their bodies violently backwards and forwards, and altogether.

A grand dinner was afterwards served up, at which the guests sat on
carpets, with their legs across. There were twenty tables, and five
or six people at each table. That of the General-in-Chief and the
sheik El Bekri was in the middle; a little slab of a precious kind
of wood ornamented with mosaic work was placed eighteen inches above
the floor and covered with a great number of dishes in succession.
They were pillaws of rice, a particular kind of roast, entrees, and
pastry, all very highly spiced. The sheiks picked everything with
their fingers. Accordingly water was brought to wash the hands
three times during dinner. Gooseberry-water, lemonade, and other
sorts of sherbets were served to drink, and abundance of preserves
and confectionery with the dessert. On the whole, the dinner was
not disagreeable; it was only the manner of eating it that seemed
strange to us.

In the evening the whole city was illuminated. After dinner the
party went into the square of El Bekri, the illumination of which,
in coloured lamps, was very beautiful. An immense concourse of
people attended. They were all placed in order, in ranks of from
twenty to a hundred persons, who, standing close together, recited
the prayers and litanies of the Prophet with movements which kept
increasing, until at length they seemed to be convulsive, and some
of the most zealous fainted sway ('Memoirs of Napoleon').]--

--[Roustan or Rustan, a Mameluke, was always with Napoleon from the

time of the return from Egypt till 1814, when he abandoned his
master. He slept at or near the door of Napoleon. See Remusat,
tome i, p. 209, for an amusing description of the alarm of
Josephine, and the precipitate flight of Madame de Remusat, at the
idea of being met and killed by this man in one of Josephine's
nocturnal attacks on the privacy of her husband when closeted with
his mistress.]--

It has been alleged that Bonaparte, when in Egypt, took part in the
religious ceremonies and worship of the Mussulmans; but it cannot be said
that he celebrated the festivals of the overflowing of the Nile and the
anniversary of the Prophet. The Turks invited him to these merely as a
spectator; and the presence of their new master was gratifying to the
people. But he never committed the folly of ordering any solemnity.
He neither learned nor repeated any prayer of the Koran, as many persons
have asserted; neither did he advocate fatalism, polygamy, or any other
doctrine of the Koran. Bonaparte employed himself better than in
discussing with the Imaums the theology of the children of Ismael. The
ceremonies, at which policy induced him to be present, were to him, and
to all who accompanied him, mere matters of curiosity. He never set foot
in a mosque; and only on one occasion, which I shall hereafter mention,
dressed himself in the Mahometan costume. He attended the festivals to
which the green turbans invited him. His religious tolerance was the
natural consequence of his philosophic spirit.

--[From this Sir Walter Scott infers that he did not scruple to join
the Musselmans in the external ceremonies of their religion. He
embellishes his romance with the ridiculous farce of the sepulchral
chamber of the grand pyramid, and the speeches which were addressed
to the General as well as to the muftis and Imaums; and he adds that
Bonaparte was on the point of embracing Islamism. All that Sir
Walter says on this subject is the height of absurdity, and does not
even deserve to be seriously refuted. Bonaparte never entered a
mosque except from motives of curiosity,(see contradiction in
previous paragraph. D.W.) and be never for one moment afforded any
ground for supposing that he believed to the mission of Mahomet.--

Doubtless Bonaparte did, as he was bound to do, show respect for the
religion of the country; and he found it necessary to act more like a
Mussulman than a Catholic. A wise conqueror supports his triumphs by
protecting and even elevating the religion of the conquered people.
Bonaparte's principle was, as he himself has often told me, to look upon
religions as the work of men, but to respect them everywhere as a
powerful engine of government. However, I will not go so far as to say
that he would not have changed his religion had the conquest of the East
been the price of that change. All that he said about Mahomet, Islamism,
and the Koran to the, great men of the country he laughed at himself.
He enjoyed the gratification of having all his fine sayings on the
subject of religion translated into Arabic poetry, and repeated from
mouth to mouth. This of course tended to conciliate the people.

I confess that Bonaparte frequently conversed with the chiefs of the

Mussulman religion on the subject of his conversion; but only for the
sake of amusement. The priests of the Koran, who would probably have
been delighted to convert us, offered us the most ample concessions.
But these conversations were merely started by way of entertainment,
and never could have warranted a supposition of their leading to any
serious result. If Bonaparte spoke as a Mussulman, it was merely in his
character of a military and political chief in a Mussulman country.
To do so was essential to his success, to the safety of his army, and,
consequently; to his glory. In every country he would have drawn up
proclamations and delivered addresses on the same principle. In India he
would have been for Ali, at Thibet for the Dalai-lama, and in China for

--[On the subject of his alleged conversion to Mahometanism

Bonaparte expressed himself at St. Helena as follows:

"I never followed any of the tenets of that religion. I never

prayed in the mosques. I never abstained from wine, or was
circumcised, neither did I ever profess it. I said merely that we
were the friends of the Mussulmans, and that I respected Mahomet
their prophet, which was true; I respect him now. I wanted to make
the Imaums cause prayers to be offered up in the mosques for me, in
order to make the people respect me still more than they actually
did, and obey me more readily. The Imaums replied that there was a
great obstacle, because their Prophet in the Koran had inculcated to
them that they were not to obey, respect, or hold faith with
infidels, and that I came under that denomination. I then desired
them to hold a consultation, and see what was necessary to be done
in order to become a Musselman, as some of their tenets could not be
practised by us. That, as to circumcision, God had made us unfit
for that. That, with respect to drinking wine, we were poor cold
people, inhabitants of the north, who could not exist without it.
They consulted together accordingly, and in about three weeks issued
a fetham, declaring that circumcision might be omitted, because it
was merely a profession; that as to drinking wine, it might be drunk
by Mussulmans, but that those who drank it would not go to paradise,
but to hell I replied that this would not do; that we had no
occasion to make ourselves Mussulmans in order to go to hell, that
there were many ways of getting there without coining to Egypt, and
desired them to hold another consultation. After deliberating and
battling together for I believe three months, they finally decided
that a man might become a Mussulman, and neither circumcise nor
abstain from wine; but that, in proportion to the wine drunk, some
good works must be done. I then told them that we were all
Mussulmans and friends of the Prophet, which they really believed,
as the French soldiers never went to church, and had no priests with
them. For you must know that during the Revolution there was no
religion whatever in the French army. Menou," continued Napoleon,
"really turned Mahometan, which was the reason I left him behind."
--(Voices from St. Helena.)]--

The General-in-Chief had a Turkish dress made, which he once put on,
merely in joke. One day he desired me to go to breakfast without waiting
for him, and that he would follow me. In about a quarter of an hour he
made his appearance in his new costume. As soon as he was recognised he
was received with a loud burst of laughter. He sat down very coolly; but
he found himself so encumbered and ill at ease in his turban and Oriental
robe that he speedily threw them off, and was never tempted to a second
performance of the masquerade.

About the end of August Bonaparte wished to open negotiations with the
Pasha of Acre, nicknamed the Butcher. He offered Djezzar his friendship,
sought his in return, and gave him the most consolatory assurances of the
safety of his dominions. He promised to support him against the Grand
Seignior, at the very moment when he was assuring the Egyptians that he
would support the Grand Seignior against the beys. But Djezzar,
confiding in his own strength and in the protection of the English, who
had anticipated Bonaparte, was deaf to every overture, and would not even
receive Beauvoisin, who was sent to him on the 22d of August. A second
envoy was beheaded at Acre. The occupations of Bonaparte and the
necessity of obtaining a more solid footing in Egypt retarded for the
moment the invasion of that pashalic, which provoked vengeance by its
barbarities, besides being a dangerous neighbour.

From the time he received the accounts of the disaster of Aboukir until
the revolt of Cairo on the 22d of October, Bonaparte sometimes found the
time hang heavily on his hands. Though he devoted attention to
everything, yet there was not sufficient occupation for his singularly
active mind. When the heat was not too great he rode on horseback; and
on his return, if he found no despatches to read (which often happened),
no orders to send off; or no letters to answer, he was immediately
absorbed in reverie, and would sometimes converse very strangely. One
day, after a long pause, he said to me:

"Do you know what I am thinking of?"--"Upon my word, that would be very
difficult; you think of such extraordinary things."--"I don't know,"
continued lie, "that I shall ever see France again; but if I do, my only
ambition is to make a glorious campaign in Germany--in the plains of
Bavaria; there to gain a great battle, and to avenge France for the
defeat of Hochstadt. After that I would retire into the country, and
live quietly."

He then entered upon a long dissertation on the preference he would give

to Germany as the theatre of war; the fine character of the people, and
the prosperity and wealth of the country, and its power of supporting an
army. His conversations were sometimes very long; but always replete
with interest.

--[So early as 1794 Napoleon had suggested that Austria should

always be attacked in Germany, not in Italy. "It is Germany that
should be overwhelmed; that done, Italy and Spain fall of
themselves. Germany should be attacked, not Spain or Italy. If we
obtain great success, advantage should never be taken of it to
penetrate into Italy while Germany, unweakened, offers a formidable
front" (Iung's Bonaparte, tome ii. p. 936), He was always opposed
to the wild plans which had ruined so many French armies in Italy,
and which the Directory tried to force on him, of marching on Rome
and Naples after every success in the north.]--

In these intervals of leisure Bonaparte was accustomed to retire to bed

early. I used to read to him every evening. When I read poetry he would
fall asleep; but when he asked for the Life of Cromwell I counted on
sitting up pretty late. In the course of the day he used to read and
make notes. He often expressed regret at not receiving news from France;
for correspondence was rendered impracticable by the numerous English and
Turkish cruisers. Many letters were intercepted and scandalously
published. Not even family secrets and communications of the most
confidential nature were respected.

About the middle of September in this year (1798), Bonaparte ordered to

be brought to the house of Elfy Bey half a dozen Asiatic women whose
beauty he had heard highly extolled. But their ungraceful obesity
displeased him, and they were immediately dismissed. A few days after he
fell violently in love with Madame Foures, the wife of a lieutenant of
infantry. She was very pretty, and her charms were enhanced by the
rarity of seeing a woman in Egypt who was calculated to please the eye of
a European. Bonaparte engaged for her a house adjoining the palace of
Elfy Bey, which we occupied. He frequently ordered dinner to be prepared
there, and I used to go there with him at seven o'clock, and leave him at

This connection soon became the general subject of gossip at head-

quarters. Through a feeling of delicacy to M. Foures, the General-in-
Chief gave him a mission to the Directory. He embarked at Alexandria,
and the ship was captured by the English, who, being informed of the
cause of his mission, were malicious enough to send him back to Egypt,
instead of keeping him prisoner. Bonaparte wished to have a child by
Madame Foures, but this wish was not realised.

A celebrated soothsayer was recommended to Bonaparte by the inhabitants

of Cairo, who confidentially vouched for the accuracy with which he could
foretell future events. He was sent for, and when he arrived, I,
Venture, and a sheik were with the General. The prophet wished first to
exercise his skill upon Bonaparte, who, however, proposed that I should
have my fortune told first, to which I acceded without hesitation.
To afford an idea of his prophetic skill I must mention that since my
arrival in Cairo I had been in a very weak state. The passage of the
Nile and the bad food we had had for twelve days had greatly reduced me,
so that I was miserably pale and thin.

After examining my hands, feeling my pulse, my forehead, and the nape of

my neck, the fortune-teller shrugged his shoulders, and, in a melancholy
tone, told Venture that he did not think it right to inform me of my
fate. I gave him to understand that he might say what he pleased, as it
was a matter of indifference to me. After considerable hesitation on his
part and pressing on mine, he announced to me that the earth of Egypt
would receive me in two months.

I thanked him, and he was dismissed. When we were alone the General said
to me, "Well, what do you think of that?" I observed that the fortune-
teller did not run any great risk in foretelling my death, which was a
very probable circumstance in the state in which I was; "but," added I,
"if I procure the wines which I have ordered from France, you will soon
see me get round again."

The art of imposing on mankind has at all times been an important part of
the art of governing; and it was not that portion of the science of
government which Bonaparte was the least acquainted with. He neglected
no opportunity of showing off to the Egyptians the superiority of France
in arts and sciences; but it happened, oftener than once, that the simple
instinct of the Egyptians thwarted his endeavours in this way. Some days
after the visit of the pretended fortune-teller he wished, if I may so
express myself, to oppose conjurer to conjurer. For this purpose he
invited the principal sheiks to be present at some chemical experiments
performed by M. Berthollet. The General expected to be much amused at
their astonishment; but the miracles of the transformation of liquids,
electrical commotions and galvanism, did not elicit from them any symptom
of surprise. They witnessed the operations of our able chemist with the
most imperturbable indifference. When they were ended, the sheik El
Bekri desired the interpreter to tell M. Berthollet that it was all very
fine; "but," said he, "ask him whether he can make me be in Morocco and
here at one and the same moment?" M. Berthollet replied in the negative,
with a shrug of his shoulders. "Oh! then," said the sheik, "he is not
half a sorcerer."

Our music produced no greater effect upon them. They listened with
insensibility to all the airs that were played to them, with the
exception of "Marlbrook." When that was played they became animated, and
were all in motion, as if ready to dance.

An order which had been issued on our arrival in Cairo for watching the
criers of the mosques had for some weeks been neglected. At certain
hours of the night these cries address prayers to the Prophet. As it was
merely a repetition of the same ceremony over and over again, in a short
time no notice was taken of it. The Turks, perceiving this negligence,
substituted for their prayers and hymns cries of revolt, and by this sort
of verbal telegraph, insurrectionary excitement was transmitted to the
northern and southern extremities of Egypt. By this means, and by the
aid of secret emissaries, who eluded our feeble police, and circulated
real or forged firmans of the Sultan disavowing the concord between
France and the Porte, and provoking war, the plan of a revolution was
organised throughout the country.

The signal for the execution of this plan was given from the minarets on
the night of the 20th of October, and on the morning of the 21st it was
announced at headquarters that the city of Cairo was in open
insurrection. The General-in-Chief was not, as has been stated, in the
isle of Raeuddah: he did not hear the firing of the alarm-guns. He rose
when the news arrived; it was then five o'clock. He was informed that
all the shops were closed, and that the French were attacked. A moment
after he heard of the death of General Dupuis, commandant of the
garrison, who was killed by a lance in the street. Bonaparte immediately
mounted his horse, and, accompanied by only thirty guides, visited all
the threatened points, restored confidence, and, with great presence of
mind adopted measures of defence.

He left me at headquarters with only one sentinel; but he had been

accurately informed of the situation of the insurgents; and such was my
confidence in his activity and foresight that I had no apprehension, and
awaited his return with perfect composure. This composure was not
disturbed even when I saw a party of insurgents attack the house of M.
Esteve, our paymaster-general, which was situated on the opposite side of
Ezbekye'h Place. M. Esteve was, fortunately, able to resist the attack
until troops from Boulac came up to his assistance.

After visiting all the posts, and adopting every precautionary measure,
Bonaparte returned to headquarters. Finding me still alone with the
sentinel, he asked me, smiling, "whether I had not been frightened?"--
"Not at all, General, I assure you," replied I.

--It was about half-past eight in the morning when Bonaparte returned to
headquarters, and while at breakfast he was informed that some Bedouin
Arabs, on horseback, were trying to force their entrance into Cairo. He
ordered his aide de camp, Sulkowsky, to mount his horse, to take with him
fifteen guides, and proceed to the point where the assailants were most
numerous. This was the Bab-el-Nasser, or the gate of victory. Croisier
observed to the General-in-Chief that Sulkowsky had scarcely recovered
from the wounds at Salehye'h, and he offered to take his place. He had
his motives for this. Bonaparte consented; but Sulkowsky had already set
out. Within an hour after, one of the fifteen guides returned, covered
with blood, to announce that Sulkowsky and the remainder of his party had
been cut to pieces. This was speedy work, for we were still at table
when the sad news arrived.

Mortars were planted on Mount Mokatam, which commands Cairo. The

populace, expelled from all the principal streets by the troops,
assembled in the square of the Great Mosque, and in the little streets
running into it, which they barricaded. The firing of the artillery on
the heights was kept up with vigour for two days.

About twelve of the principal chiefs of Cairo were arrested and confined
in an apartment at headquarters. They awaited with the calmest
resignation the death they knew they merited; but Bonaparte merely
detained them as hostages. The aga in the service of Bonaparte was
astonished that sentence of death was not pronounced upon them; and he
said, shrugging his shoulders, and with a gesture apparently intended to
provoke severity, "You see they expect it."

On the third the insurrection was at an end, and tranquillity restored.

Numerous prisoners were conducted to the citadel. In obedience to an
order which I wrote every evening, twelve were put to death nightly. The
bodies were then put into sacks and thrown into the Nile. There were
many women included in these nocturnal executions.

I am not aware that the number of victims amounted to thirty per day, as
Bonaparte assured General Reynier in a letter which he wrote to him six
days after the restoration of tranquillity. "Every night," said he,
"we cut off thirty heads. This, I hope, will be an effectual example."
I am of opinion that in this instance he exaggerated the extent of his
just revenge.

Some time after the revolt of Cairo the necessity of ensuring our own
safety forced the commission of a terrible act of cruelty. A tribe of
Arabs in the neighbourhood of Cairo had surprised and massacred a party
of French. The General-in-Chief ordered his aide de camp Croisier to
proceed to the spot, surround the tribe, destroy the huts, kill all the
men, and conduct the rest of the population to Cairo. The order was to
decapitate the victims, and bring their heads in sacks to Cairo to be
exhibited to the people. Eugene Beauharnais accompanied Croisier, who
joyfully set out on this horrible expedition, in hope of obliterating all
recollection of the affair of Damanhour.

On the following day the party returned. Many of the poor Arab women had
been delivered on the road, and the children had perished of hunger,
heat, and fatigue. About four o'clock a troop of asses arrived in
Ezbekye'h Place, laden with sacks. The sacks were opened and the heads
rolled out before the assembled populace. I cannot describe the horror
I experienced; but I must nevertheless acknowledge that this butchery
ensured for a considerable time the tranquillity and even the existence
of the little caravans which were obliged to travel in all directions for
the service of the army.

Shortly before the loss of the fleet the General-in Chief had formed the
design of visiting Suez, to examine the traces of the ancient canal which
united the Nile to the Gulf of Arabia, and also to cross the latter. The
revolt at Cairo caused this project to be adjourned until the month of

Before his departure for Suez. Bonaparte granted the commissary Sucy
leave to return to France. He had received a wound in the right hand,
when on board the xebec 'Cerf'. I was conversing with him on deck when
he received this wound. At first it had no appearance of being serious;
but some time after he could not use his hand. General Bonaparte
despatched a vessel with sick and-wounded, who were supposed to be
incurable, to the number of about eighty. All, envied their fate, and
were anxious to depart with them, but the privilege was conceded to very
few. However, those who were, disappointed had, no cause for regret. We
never know what we wish for. Captain Marengo, who landed at Augusta in
Sicily, supposing it to be a friendly land, was required to observe
quarantine for twenty-two days, and information was given of the arrival
of the vessel to the court, which was at Palermo. On the 25th of January
1799 all on board the French vessel were massacred, with the exception of
twenty-one who were saved by a Neapolitan frigate, and conducted to
Messing, where they wore detained.

Before he conceived the resolution of attacking the Turkish advanced

guard in the valleys of Syria, Bonaparte had formed a plan of invading
British India from Persia. He had ascertained, through the medium of
agents, that the Shah of Persia would, for a sum, of money paid in
advance consent to the establishment of military magazines on certain
points of his territory. Bonaparte frequently told me that if, after the
subjugation of Egypt, he could have left 15,000 men in that country, and
have had 30,000 disposable troops, he would have marched on the
Euphrates. He was frequently speaking about the deserts which were to be
crossed to reach Persia.

How many, times have I seen him extended on the ground, examining the
beautiful maps which he had brought with him, and he would sometimes make
me lie down in the same position to trace to me his projected march.
This reminded him of the triumphs of his favourite hero, Alexander, with
whom he so much desired to associate his name; but, at the same time, he
felt that these projects were incompatible with our resources, the
weakness of the Government; and the dissatisfaction which the army
already evinced. Privation and misery are inseparable from all these
remote operations.

This favourite idea still occupied his mind a fortnight before his
departure for Syria was determined on, and on the 25th of January 1799
he wrote to Tippoo Saib as follows:--

You are of course already informed, of my arrival on the banks of

the Red Sea, with a numerous and invincible army. Eager to deliver
you from the iron yoke of England, I hasten to request that you will
send me, by the way of Mascate or Mocha, an account of the political
situation in which you are. I also wish that you could send to
Suez, or Grand Cairo, some able man, in your confidence, with whom I
may confer.

--[It is not true, as has often been stated, that Tippoo Saib wrote
to General Bonaparte. He could not reply to a letter written on the
23th of January, owing to the great difficulty of communication, the
considerable distance, and the short interval which elapsed between
the 25th of January and the fall of the Empire of Mysore, which
happened on the 20th of April following. The letter to Tippo Saib
commenced "Citizen-Sultan!"--Bourrienne]--


Bonaparte's departure for Suez--Crossing the desert--Passage of the

Red Sea--The fountain of Moses--The Cenobites of Mount Sinai--Danger
in recrossing the Red Sea--Napoleon's return to Cairo--Money
borrowed at Genoa--New designs upon Syria--Dissatisfaction of the
Ottoman Porte--Plan for invading Asia--Gigantic schemes--General
Berthier's permission to return to France--His romantic love and the
adored portrait--He gives up his permission to return home--Louis
Bonaparte leaves Egypt--The first Cashmere shawl in France--
Intercepted correspondence--Departure for Syria--Fountains of
Messoudish--Bonaparte jealous--Discontent of the troops--El-Arish
taken--Aspect of Syria--Ramleh--Jerusalem.

On the 24th of December we set out for Suez, where we arrived on the
26th. On the 25th we encamped in the desert some leagues before Ad-
Geroth. The heat had been very great during the day; but about eleven at
night the cold became so severe as to be precisely in an inverse ratio to
the temperature of the day. This desert, which is the route of the
caravans from Suez, from Tor and the countries situated on the north of
Arabia, is strewed with the bones of the men and animals who, for ages
past, have perished in crossing it. As there was no wood to be got, we
collected a quantity of these bones for fuel. Monge himself was induced
to sacrifice some of the curious skulls of animals which he had picked up
on the way and deposited in the Berlin of the General-in-Chief. But no
sooner had we kindled our fires than an intolerable effluvium obliged us
to, raise our camp and advance farther on, for we could procure no water
to extinguish the fires.

On the 27th Bonaparte employed himself in inspecting the town and port of
Suez, and in giving orders for some naval and military works. He feared-
what indeed really occurred after his departure from Egypt--the arrival
of some English troops from the East Indies, which he had intended to
invade. These regiments contributed to the loss of his conquest.

--[Sir David Baird, with a force of about 7000 men sent from India,
landed at Cosseir in July 1801.]--

On the morning of the 28th we crossed the Red Sea dry-shod, to go to the
Wells of Moses, which are nearly a myriametre from the eastern coast, and
a little southeast of Suez. The Gulf of Arabia terminates at about 5,000
metres north of that city. Near the port the Red Sea is not above 1,500
metres wide, and is always fordable at low water. The caravans from Tor
and Mount Sinai always pass at that part,

--[I shall say nothing of the Cenobites of Mount Sinai, as I had not
the honour of seeing them. Neither did I see the register
containing the names of Ali, Salah-Eddin, Ibrahim or Abraham,
on which Bonaparte is said to have inscribed his name. I perceived
at a distance some high hills which were said to be Mount Sinai.
I conversed, through the medium of an interpreter, with some Arabian
chiefs of Tor and its neighbourhood. They had been informed of our
excursion to the Wells, and that they might there thank the French
General for the protection granted to their caravans and their trade
with Egypt. On the 19th of December, before his departure from
Suez, Bonaparte signed a sort of safeguard, or exemption from
duties, for the convent of Mount Sinai. This had been granted out
of respect to Moses and the Jewish nation, and also because the
convent of Mount Sinai is a seat of learning and civilisation amidst
the barbarism of the deserts.--Bourrienne.]--

either in going to or returning from Egypt. This shortens their journey

nearly a myriametre. At high tide the water rises five or six feet at
Suez, and when the wind blows fresh it often rises to nine or ten feet.

We spent a few hours seated by the largest of the springs called the
Wells of Moses, situated on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Arabia.
We made coffee with the water from these springs, which, however, gave it
such a brackish taste that it was scarcely drinkable.

Though the water of the eight little springs which form the Wells of
Moses is not so salt as that of many wells dug in other parts of the
deserts, it is, nevertheless, exceedingly brackish, and does not allay
thirst so well as fresh water.

Bonaparte returned to Suez that same night. It was very dark when we
reached the sea-shore. The tide was coming up, and the water was pretty
high. We deviated a little from the way we had taken in the morning; we
crossed a little too low down; we were thrown into disorder, but we did
not lose ourselves in the marshes as has been stated. There were none.
I have read somewhere, though I did not see the fact, nor did I hear it
mentioned at the time, that the tide, which was coming up, would have
been the grave of the General-in-Chief had not one of the guides saved
him by carrying him on his shoulders. If any such danger had existed,
all who had not a similar means of escape must have perished.

This is a fabrication. General Caffarelli was the only person who was
really in danger, for his wooden leg prevented his sitting firmly on his
horse in the water; but some persons came to his assistance and supported

--[Bonaparte extricated himself as the others did from the real

danger he and his escort had run. At St. Helena he said, "Profiting
by the low tide, I crossed the Red Sea dry-shod. On my return I was
overtaken by the night and went astray in the middle of the rising
tide. I ran the greatest danger. I nearly perished in the same
manner as Pharaoh did. This would certainly have furnished all the
Christian preachers with a magnificent test against me."

On his return to Cairo the General-in-Chief wished to discover the site

of the canal which in ancient times formed a junction between the Red Sea
and the Nile by Belbeis. M. Lepere, who was a member of the Egyptian
Institute, and is now inspector-general of bridges and highways, executed
on the spot a beautiful plan, which may confidently be consulted by those
who wish to form an accurate idea of that ancient communication, and the
level of the two seas.

--[Since accurately ascertained during the progress of the works for

the Suez Canal.]--

On his arrival at the capital Bonaparte again devoted all his thoughts to
the affairs of the army, which he had not attended to during his short
absence. The revenues of Egypt were far from being sufficient to meet
the military expenditure. To defray his own expenses Bonaparte raised
several considerable loans in Genoa through the medium of M. James. The
connection of James with the Bonaparte family takes its date from this

--[Joseph Bonaparte says that the fathers of Napoleon and of M.

James had long known one another, and that Napoleon had met James at
Autun. ('Erreurs', tome i, p. 296).]--

Since the month of August the attention of General Bonaparte had been
constantly fixed on Syria. The period of the possible landing of an
enemy in Egypt had now passed away, and could not return until the month
of July in the following year. Bonaparte was fully convinced that that
landing would take place, and he was not deceived. The Ottoman Porte
had, indeed, been persuaded that the conquest of Egypt was not in her
interest. She preferred enduring a rebel whom she hoped one day to
subdue to supporting a power which, under the specious pretext of
reducing her insurgent beys to obedience, deprived her of one of her
finest provinces, and threatened the rest of the empire.

On his return to Cairo the General-in-Chief had no longer any doubt as to

the course which the Porte intended to adapt. The numerous class of
persons who believed that the Ottoman Porte had consented to our
occupation of Egypt were suddenly undeceived. It, was then asked how we
could, without that consent, have attempted such an enterprise? Nothing,
it was said, could justify the temerity of such an expedition, if it
should produce a rupture between France, the Ottoman empire, and its
allies. However, for the remainder of the year Bonaparte dreaded nothing
except an expedition from Gaza and El-Arish, of which the troops of
Djezzar had already taken possession. This occupation was justly
regarded as a decided act of hostility; war was thus practically
declared. "We must adopt anticipatory measures," thought Napoleon;
"we must destroy this advanced guard of the Ottoman empire, overthrow
the ramparts of Jaffa and Acre, ravage the country, destroy all her
resources, so as to render the passage of an army across the desert
impracticable." Thus was planned the expedition against Syria.

General Berthier, after repeated entreaties, had obtained permission to

return to France. The 'Courageuse' frigate, which was to convey him
home, was fitting out at Alexandria; he had received his instructions,
and was to leave Cairo on the 29th of January, ten days before
Bonaparte's departure for Syria. Bonaparte was sorry to part with him;
but he could not endure to see an old friend, and one who had served him
well in all his campaigns, dying before his eyes, the victim of nostalgia
and romantic love. Besides, Berthier had been for some time past,
anything but active in the discharge of his duties. His passion, which
amounted almost to madness, impaired the feeble faculties with which
nature had endowed him. Some writers have ranked him in the class of
sentimental lovers: be this as it may, the homage which Berthier rendered
to the portrait of the object of his adoration more frequently excited
our merriment than our sensibility.

One day I went with an order from Bonaparte to the chief of his staff,
whom I found on his knees before the portrait of Madame Visconti, which
was hanging opposite the door. I touched him, to let him know I was
there. He grumbled a little, but did not get angry.

The moment was approaching when the two friends were to part, perhaps
forever. Bonaparte was sincerely distressed at this separation, and the
chief of his staff was informed of the fact. At a moment when it was
supposed Berthier was on his way to Alexandria, he presented himself to
the General-in-Chief. "You are, then, decidedly going to Asia?" said
he.--"You know," replied the General, "that all is ready, and I shall set
out in a few days."--"Well, I will not leave you. I voluntarily renounce
all idea of returning to France. I could not endure to forsake you at a
moment when you are going to encounter new dangers. Here are my
instructions and my passport." Bonaparte, highly pleased with this
resolution, embraced Berthier; and the coolness which had been excited by
his request to return home was succeeded by a sincere reconciliation.

Louis Bonaparte, who was suffering from the effects of the voyage, was
still at Alexandria. The General-in-Chief, yielding to the pacific views
of his younger brother, who was also beginning to evince some symptoms of
nostalgia, consented to his return home. He could not, however, depart
until the 11th of March 1799. I felt the absence of Louis very much.

On his return to France Louis passed through Sens, where he dined with
Madame de Bourrienne, to whom he presented a beautiful shawl, which
General Berthier had given me. This, I believe, was the first Cashmere
that had ever been seen in France. Louis was much surprised when Madame
de Bourrienne showed him the Egyptian correspondence, which had been
seized by the English and printed in London. He found in the collection
some letters addressed to himself, and there were others, he said, which
were likely to disturb the peace of more than one family on the return of
the army.

On the 11th of February 1799 we began our march for Syria, with about
12,000 men. It has been erroneously stated that the army amounted to
only 6000: nearly that number was lost in the course of the campaign.
However, at the very moment we were on our way to Syria, with 12,000 men,
scarcely as many being left in Egypt, the Directory published that,
"according to the information which had been received," we had 60,000
infantry and 10,000 cavalry; that the army had doubled its numbers by
battles; and that since our arrival in Egypt, we had lost only 300 men.
Is history to be written from such documents?

We arrived, about four o'clock in the afternoon, at Messoudiah, or,

"the Fortunate Spot." Here we witnessed a kind of phenomenon, which was
not a little agreeable to us. Messoudiah is a place situated on the
coast of the Mediterranean, surrounded with little dunes of very fine
sand, which the copious rains of winter readily penetrate. The rain
remains in the sand, so that on making with the fingers holes of four or
five inches in depth at the bottom of these little hills, the water
immediately flows out. This water was, indeed, rather thick, but its
flavour was agreeable; and it would have become clear if we could have
spared time to allow it to rest and deposit the particles of sand it

It was a curious spectacle to behold us all lying prostrate, digging

wells in miniature; and displaying a laughable selfishness in our
endeavours to obtain the most abundant source. This was a very important
discovery to us. We found these sand-wells at the extremity of the
desert, and it contributed, in no small degree, to revive the courage of
our soldiers; besides, when men are, as was the case with us, subject to
privations of every kind, the least benefit which accrues inspires the
hope of a new advantage. We were approaching the confines of Syria, and
we enjoyed by anticipation, the pleasure we were about to experience, on
treading a soil which, by its variety of verdure and vegetation, would
remind us of our native land. At Messoudiah we likewise possessed the
advantage of bathing in the sea, which was not more than fifty paces from
our unexpected water-supply.

Whilst near the wells of Messoudiah, on the way to El-Arish, I one day
saw Bonaparte walking alone with Junot, as he was often in the habit of
doing. I stood at a little distance, and my eyes, I know not why, were
fixed on him during their conversation. The General's countenance, which
was always pale, had, without my being able to divine the cause, become
paler than usual. There was something convulsive in his features--a
wildness in his look, and he several times struck his head with his hand.
After conversing with Junot about a quarter of an hour he quitted him and
came towards me. I never saw him exhibit such an air of dissatisfaction,
or appear so much under the influence of some prepossession. I advanced
towards him, and as soon as we met, he exclaimed in an abrupt and angry
tone, "So! I find I cannot depend upon you.--These women!--Josephine!
--if you had loved me, you would before now have told me all I have heard
from Junot--he is a real friend--Josephine!--and I 600 leagues from her--
you ought to have told me.--That she should thus have deceived me!--'Woe
to them!--I will exterminate the whole race of fops and puppies!--As to
her--divorce!--yes, divorce! a public and open divorce!--I must write!
--I know all!--It is your fault--you ought to have told me!"

These energetic and broken exclamations, his disturbed countenance and

altered voice informed me but too well of the subject of his conversation
with Junot. I saw that Junot had been drawn into a culpable
indiscretion; and that, if Josephine had committed any faults, he had
cruelly exaggerated them. My situation was one of extreme delicacy.
However, I had the good fortune to retain my self-possession, and as soon
as some degree of calmness succeeded to this first burst, I replied that
I knew nothing of the reports which Junot might have communicated to him;
that even if such reports, often the offspring of calumny, had reached my
ear, and if I had considered it my duty to inform him of them,
I certainly would not have selected for that purpose the moment when he
was 600 leagues from France. I also did not conceal how blamable Junot's
conduct appeared to me, and how ungenerous I considered it thus rashly to
accuse a woman who was not present to justify or defend herself; that it
was no great proof of attachment to add domestic uneasiness to the
anxiety, already sufficiently great, which the situation of his brothers
in arms, at the commencement of a hazardous enterprise, occasioned him.

Notwithstanding these observations, which, however, he listened to with

some calmness, the word " divorce" still escaped his lips; and it is
necessary to be aware of the degree of irritation to which he was liable
when anything seriously vexed him, to be able to form an idea of what
Bonaparte was during this painful scene. However, I kept my ground.
I repeated what I had said. I begged of him to consider with what
facility tales were fabricated and circulated, and that gossip such as
that which had been repeated to him was only the amusement of idle
persons; and deserved the contempt of strong minds. I spoke of his
glory. "My glory!" cried he. "I know not what I would not give if that
which Junot has told me should be untrue; so much do I love Josephine!
If she be really guilty a divorce must separate us for ever. I will not
submit to be a laughing-stock for all the imbeciles in Paris. I will
write to Joseph; he will get the divorce declared."

Although his agitation continued long, intervals occurred in which he was

less excited. I seized one of these moments of comparative calm to
combat this idea of divorce which seemed to possess his mind.
I represented to him especially that it would be imprudent to write to
his brother with reference to a communication which was probably false.
"The letter might be intercepted; it would betray the feelings of
irritation which dictated it. As to a divorce, it would be time to think
of that hereafter, but advisedly."

These last words produced an effect on him which I could not have
ventured to hope for so speedily. He became tranquil, listened to me as
if he had suddenly felt the justice of my observations, dropped the
subject, and never returned to it; except that about a fortnight after,
when we were before St. Jean d'Acre, he expressed himself greatly
dissatisfied with Junot, and complained of the injury he had done him by
his indiscreet disclosures, which he began to regard as the inventions of
malignity. I perceived afterwards that he never pardoned Junot for this
indiscretion; and I can state, almost with certainty, that this was one
of the reasons why Junot was not created a marshal of France, like many
of, his comrades whom Bonaparte had loved less. It may be supposed that
Josephine, who was afterwards informed by Bonaparte of Junot's
conversation, did not feel particularly interested in his favour.
He died insane on the 27th of July 1813.

--[However indiscreet Junot might on this occasion have shown

himself in interfering in so delicate a matter, it is pretty certain
that his suspicions were breathed to no other ear than that of
Bonaparte himself. Madame Junot, in speaking of the ill-suppressed
enmity between her husband and Madame Bonaparte, says that he never
uttered a word even to her of the subject of his conversation with,
the General-in-Chief to Egypt. That Junot's testimony, however,
notwithstanding the countenance it obtained from Bonaparte's
relations, ought to be cautiously received, the following passage
from the Memoirs of the Duchesse d'Abrantes, vol. i. p. 250,
demonstrative of the feelings of irritation between the parties,
will show:

"Junot escorted Madame Bonaparte when she went to join the General-
in-Chief in Italy. I am surprised that M. de Bourrienne has omitted
mentioning this circumstance in his Memoirs. He must have known it,
since he was well acquainted with everything relating to Josephine,
and knew many facts of high interest in her life at this period and
subsequently. How happens it too that he makes no mention of
Mademoiselle Louise, who might be called her 'demioselle de
compagnie' rather than her 'femme de chambre'? At the outset of the
journey to Italy she was such a favourite with Josephine that she
dressed like her mistress, ate at table with her, and was in all
respects her friend and confidante.

"The journey was long, much too long for Junot, though he was very
much in love with Mademoiselle Louise. But he was anxious to join
the army, for to him his General was always the dearest of
mistresses. Junot has often spoken to me, and to me alone, of the
vexations he experienced on this journey. He might have added to
his circumstantial details relative to Josephine the conversation he
is reported go have had with Bonaparte to Egypt; but he never
breathed a word on the subject, for his character was always noble
and generous. The journey to Italy did not produce the effect which
usually arises from such incidents in common life; namely, a closer
friendship and intimacy between the parties. On the contrary,
Madame Bonaparte from that moment evinced some degree of ill-humour
towards Junot, and complained with singular warmth of the want of
respect which he had shown her, in making love to her 'femme de
chambre' before her face."
According to 'Erreurs (tome i. pp. 4, 50) Junot was not then in
Syria. On 10th February Napoleon was at Messoudiah. Junot only
arrived from Egypt at Gaza on the 25th February. Madame d'Abrantes
(ii. 32) treats this conversation as apocryphal. "This (an anecdote
of her own) is not an imaginary episode like that, for example, of
making a person speak at Messoudiah who never was there."]--

Our little army continued its march on El-Arish, where we arrived on the
17th of February. The fatigues experienced in the desert and the
scarcity of water excited violent murmurs amongst the soldiers during
their march across the isthmus. When any person on horseback passed them
they studiously expressed their discontent. The advantage possessed by
the horsemen provoked their sarcasms. I never heard the verses which
they are said to have repeated, but they indulged in the most violent
language against the Republic, the men of science, and those whom they
regarded as the authors of the expedition. Nevertheless these brave
fellows, from whom it was not astonishing that such great privations
should extort complaints, often compensated by their pleasantries for the
bitterness of their reproaches.

Many times during the crossing of the isthmus I have seen soldiers,
parched with thirst, and unable to wait till the hour for distribution of
water, pierce the leathern bottles which contained it; and this conduct,
so injurious to all, occasioned numerous quarrels.

El-Arish surrendered on the 17th of February. It has been erroneously

stated that the garrison of this insignificant place, which was set at
liberty on condition of not again serving against us, was afterwards
found amongst the besieged at Jaffa. It has also been stated that it was
because the men composing the El-Arish garrison did not proceed to
Bagdad, according to the capitulation, that we shot them at Jaffa. We
shall presently see the falsehood of these assertions.

On the 28th of February we obtained the first glimpse of the green and
fertile plains of Syria, which, in many respects, reminded us of the
climate and soil of Europe. We now had rain, and sometimes rather too
much. The feelings which the sight of the valleys and mountains called.
forth made us, in some degree, forget the hardships and vexations of an
expedition of which few persons could foresee the object or end. There
are situations in life when the slightest agreeable sensation alleviates
all our ills.

On the 1st of March we slept at Ramleh, in a small convent occupied by

two monks, who paid us the greatest attention. They gave us the church
for a hospital. These good fathers did not fail to tell us that it was
through this place the family of Jesus Christ passed into Egypt, and
showed us the wells at which they quenched their thirst.

--[Ramleh, the ancient Arimathea, is situated at the base of a chain

of mountains, the eastern extremity of which is washed by the
Persian Gulf, and the western by the Mediterranean.--Bourrienne.]--

The pure and cool water of these wells delighted us.

We were not more than about six leagues from Jerusalem.

I asked the General whether he did not intend to direct his march by the
way of that city, so celebrated in many respects. He replied, "Oh no!
Jerusalem is not in my line of operations. I do not wish to be annoyed
by mountaineers in difficult roads. And, besides, on the other aide of
the mountain I should be assailed by swarms of cavalry. I am not
ambitious of the fate of Cassius."

We therefore did not enter Jerusalem, which was not disturbed by the war.
All we did was to send a written declaration to the persons in power at
Jerusalem, assuring them that we had no design against that country, and
only wished them to remain at peace. To this communication no answer was
returned, and nothing more passed on the subject.

--[Sir Walter Scott says, speaking of Bonaparte, that he believes

that little officer of artillery dreamed of being King of Jerusalem.
What I have just stated proves that he never thought of such a
thing. The "little officer of artillery" had a far more splendid
dream in his head.--Bourrienne.]--

We found at Ramleh between two and three hundred Christians in a pitiable

state of servitude, misery, and dejection. On conversing with them I
could not help admiring how much the hope of future rewards may console
men under present ills. But I learned from many of them that they did
not live in harmony together. The feelings of hatred and jealousy are
not less common amongst these people than amongst the better-instructed
inhabitants of rich and populous cities.



Arrival at Jaffa--The siege--Beauharnais and Croisier--Four thousand

prisoners--Scarcity of provisions--Councils of war--Dreadful
necessity--The massacre--The plague--Lannes and the mountaineers--
Barbarity of Djezasi--Arrival at St Jean d'Acre, and abortive
attacks--Sir Sidney Smith--Death of Caffarelli--Duroc wounded--
Rash bathing--Insurrections in Egypt.

On arriving before Jaffa, where there were already some troops, the first
person. I met was Adjutant-General Gresieux, with whom I was well
acquainted. I wished him good-day, and offered him my hand. "Good God!
what are you about?" said he, repulsing me with a very abrupt gesture;
"you may have the plague. People do not touch each other here!
"I mentioned the circumstance to Bonaparte, who said, "If he be afraid of
the plague, he will die of it." Shortly after, at St. Jean d'Acre, he
was attacked by that malady, and soon sank under it.

On the 4th of March we commenced the siege of Jaffa. That paltry place,
which, to round a sentence, was pompously styled the ancient Joppa, held
out only to the 6th of March, when it was taken by storm, and given up to
pillage. The massacre was horrible. General Bonaparte sent his aides de
camp Beauharnais and Croisier to appease the fury of the soldiers as much
as possible, and to report to him what was passing. They learned that a
considerable part of the garrison had retired into some vast buildings,
a sort of caravanserai, which formed a large enclosed court. Beauharnais
and Croisier, who were distinguished by wearing the 'aide de camp' scarf
on their arms, proceeded to that place. The Arnauts and Albanians, of
whom these refugees were almost entirely composed, cried from the windows
that they were willing to surrender upon an assurance that they would be
exempted from the massacre to which the town was doomed; if not, they
threatened to fire on the 'aides de camp', and to defend themselves to
the last extremity. The two officers thought that they ought to accede
to the proposition, notwithstanding the decree of death which had been
pronounced against the whole garrison, in consequence of the town being
token by storm. They brought them to our camp in two divisions, one
consisting of about 2500 men, the other of about 1600.

I was walking with General Bonaparte, in front of his tent, when he

beheld this mass of men approaching, and before he even saw his 'aides de
camp' he said to me, in a tone of profound sorrow, "What do they wish me
to do with these men? Have I food for them?--ships to convey them to
Egypt or France? Why, in the devil's name, have they served me thus?"
After their arrival, and the explanations which the General-in-Chief
demanded and listened to with anger, Eugene and Croisier received the
most severe reprimand for their conduct. But the deed was done. Four
thousand men were there. It was necessary to decide upon their fate.
The two aides de camp observed that they had found themselves alone in
the midst of numerous enemies, and that he had directed them to restrain
the carnage. "Yes, doubtless," replied the General-in-Chief, with great
warmth, "as to women, children, and old men--all the peaceable
inhabitants; but not with respect to armed soldiers. It was your duty to
die rather than bring these unfortunate creatures to me. What do you want
me to do with them?" These words were pronounced in the most angry tone.

The prisoners were then ordered to sit down, and were placed, without any
order, in front of the tents, their hands tied behind their backs.
A sombre determination was depicted on their countenances. We gave them
a little biscuit and bread, squeezed out of the already scanty supply for
the army.

On the first day of their arrival a council of war was held in the tent
of the General-in-Chief, to determine what course should be pursued with
respect to them the council deliberated a long time without coming to any

On the evening of the following day the daily reports of the generals of
division came in. They spoke of nothing but the insufficiency of the
rations, the complaints of the soldiers--of their murmurs and discontent
at seeing their bread given to enemies who had been withdrawn from their
vengeance, inasmuch as a decree of death; in conformity with the laws of
war, had been passed on Jaffa. All these reports were alarming, and
especially that of General Bon, in which no reserve was made. He spoke
of nothing less than the fear of a revolt, which would be justified by
the serious nature of the case.

The council assembled again. All the generals of division were summoned
to attend, and for several hours together they discussed, under separate
questions, what measures might be adopted, with the most sincere desire
to discover and execute one which would save the lives of these
unfortunate prisoners.

(l.) Should they be sent into Egypt? Could it be done?

To do so; it would be necessary to send with them a numerous escort,
which would too much weaken our little army in the enemy's country. How,
besides, could they and the escort be supported till they reached Cairo,
having no provisions to give them on setting out, and their route being
through a hostile territory, which we had exhausted, which presented no
fresh resources, and through which we, perhaps, might have to return,

(2.) Should they be embarked?

Where were the ships?--Where could they be found? All our telescopes,
directed over the sea could not descry a single friendly sail Bonaparte,
I affirm, would have regarded such an event as a real favour of fortune.
It was, and--I am glad to have to say it, this sole idea, this sole hope,
which made him brave, for three days, the murmurs of his army. But in
vain was help looked for seaward. It did not come.

(3.) Should the prisoners be set at liberty?

They world then instantly proceed to St. Jean d'Acre to reinforce the
pasha, or else, throwing themselves into the mountains of Nablous, would
greatly annoy our rear and right-flank, and deal out death to us, as a
recompense for the life we had given them. There could be no doubt of
this. What is a Christian dog to a Turk? It would even have been a
religious and meritorious act in the eye of the Prophet.

(4.) Could they be incorporated, disarmed, with our soldiers in the

Here again the question of food presented itself in all its force. Next
came to be considered the danger of having such comrades while marching
through an enemy's country. What might happen in the event of a battle
before St. Jean d'Acre? Could we even tell what might occur during the
march? And, finally, what must be done with them when under the ramparts
of that town, if we should be able to take them there? The same
embarrassments with respect to the questions of provisions and security
would then recur with increased force.

The third day arrived without its being possible, anxiously as it was
desired, to come to any conclusion favourable to the preservation of
these unfortunate men. The murmurs in the camp grew louder the evil went
on increasing--remedy appeared impossible--the danger was real and
imminent. The order for shooting the prisoners was given and executed on
the 10th of March. We did not, as has been stated, separate the Egyptians
from the other prisoners. There were no Egyptians.

Many of the unfortunate creatures composing the smaller division, which

was fired on close to the seacoast, at some distance from the other
column, succeeded in swimming to some reefs of rocks out of the reach of
musket-shot. The soldiers rested their muskets on the sand, and, to
induce the prisoners to return, employed the Egyptian signs of
reconciliation in use in the country. They, came back; but as they
advanced they were killed, and disappeared among the waves.

I confine myself to these details of this act of dreadful necessity, of

which I was an eye-witness. Others, who, like myself, saw it, have
fortunately spared me the recital of the sanguinary result. This
atrocious scene, when I think of it, still makes me shudder, as it did on
the day I beheld it; and I would wish it were possible for me to forget
it, rather than be compelled to describe it. All the horrors imagination
can conceive, relative to that day of blood, would fall short of the

I have related the truth, the whole truth. I was present at all the
discussions, all the conferences, all the deliberations. I had not, as
may be supposed, a deliberative voice; but I am bound to declare that.
the situation of the army, the scarcity of food, our small numerical
strength, in the midst of a country where every individual was an enemy,
would have induced me to vote in the affirmative of the proposition which
was carried into effect, if I had a vote to give. It was necessary to be
on the spot in order to understand the horrible necessity which existed.

War, unfortunately, presents too many occasions on which a law, immutable

in all ages, and common to all nations, requires that private interests
should be sacrificed to a great general interest, and that even humanity
should he forgotten. It is for posterity to judge whether this terrible
situation was that in which Bonaparte was placed. For my own part, I
have a perfect conviction that be could not do otherwise than yield to
the dire necessity of the case. It was the advice of the council, whose
opinion was unanimous in favour of the execution, that governed him,
Indeed I ought in truth to say, that he yielded only in the last
extremity, and was one of those, perhaps, who beheld the massacre with
the deepest pain.

After the siege of Jaffe the plague began to exhibit itself with a little
more virulence. We lost between seven and eight hundred, men by the
contagion during the campaign of Syria'

--[Sir Walter Scott says, that Heaven seat this pestilence amongst
us to avenge the massacre of Jaffa]--

During our march on St. Jean d'Acre, which was commenced on the 14th of
March, the army neither obtained the brilliant triumphs nor encountered
the numerous obstacles spoken of in certain works. Nothing of importance
occurred but a rash skirmish of General Lannes who, in spite of contrary
orders, from Bonaparte, obstinately pursued a troop of mountaineers into
the passes of Nabloua. On returning, he found the mountaineers placed in
ambush in great numbers amongst rocks, the windings of which they were
well, acquainted with, whence they fired close upon our troops; whose
situation rendered them unable to defend themselves. During the time of
this foolish and useless enterprise; especially while the firing was
brisk, Bonaparte, exhibited much impatience, and it must be confessed,
his anger was but natural: The Nablousians halted at the openings of the
mountain defiles. Bonaparte reproached Lannes bitterly for having
uselessly exposed himself, and "sacrificed, without any object, a number
of brave men." Lannes excused himself by saying that the mountaineers
had defied him, and he wished to chastise the rabble. "We are not in a
condition to play the swaggerer," replied Napoleon.

In four days we arrived before St. Jean d'Acre, where we learned that
Djezzar had cut off the head of our envoy, Mailly-de-Chateau-Renaud, and
thrown his body into the sea in a sack. This cruel pasha was guilty of a
great number of similar executions. The waves frequently drove dead
bodies towards the coast, and we came upon them whilst bathing.

The details: of the siege of Acre are well known. Although surrounded by
a wall, flanked with strong towers, and having, besides, a broad-and deep
ditch defended by works this little fortress did not appear likely to
hold out against French valour and the skill of our corps of engineers
and artillery; but the ease and rapidity with which Jaffa had been taken
occasioned us to overlook in some degree the comparative strength of the
two places, and the difference of their respective situations. At Jaffa
we had sufficient artillery: at St. Jean d'Acre we had not. At Jaffa we
had to deal only with a garrison left to itself: at St. Jean d'Acre we
were opposed by a garrison strengthened by reinforcements of men and
supplies of provisions, supported by the English fleet, and assisted by
European Science. Sir Sidney Smith was, beyond doubt, the man who did us
the greatest injury.

--[Sir Sidney Smith was the only Englishman besides the Duke of
Wellington who defeated Napoleon in military operations. The third
Englishman opposed to him, Sir John Moore, was compelled to make a
precipitate retreat through the weakness of his force]--

Much has been said respecting his communications with the General-in-
Chief. The reproaches which the latter cast upon him for endeavouring to
seduce the soldiers and officers of the army by tempting offers were the
more singular, even if they were well founded, inasmuch as these means
are frequently employed by leaders in war.

--[At one time the French General was so disturbed by them as to

endeavour to put a stop to them; which object he effected by
interdicting all communication with the English, and signifying, in
an order of the day, that their Commodore was a madman. This, being
believed in the army, so enraged Sir Sidney Smith, that in his wrath
he sent a challenge to Napoleon. The latter replied, that he had
too many weighty affairs on his hands to trouble himself in so
trifling a matter. Had it, indeed, been the great Marlborough, it
might have been worthy his attention. Still, if the English sailor
was absolutely bent upon fighting, he would send him a bravo from
the army, and show them a smell portion of neutral ground, where the
mad Commodore might land, and satisfy his humour to the full.--
(Editor of 1836 edition.)]--

As to the embarking of French prisoners on board a vessel in which the

plague existed, the improbability of the circumstance alone, but
especially the notorious facts of the case, repell this odious
accusation. I observed the conduct of Sir Sidney Smith closely at the
time, and I remarked in him a chivalric spirit, which sometimes hurried
him into trifling eccentricities; but I affirm that his behaviour towards
the French was that of a gallant enemy. I have seen many letters, in
which the writers informed him that they "were very sensible of the good
treatment which the French experienced when they fell into his hands."
Let any one examine Sir Sidney's conduct before the capitulation of El-
Arish, and after its rupture, and then they can judge of his character.

--[Napoleon, when at St. Helena, in speaking of the siege of Acre,

said,--Sidney Smith is a brave officer. He displayed considerable
ability in the treaty for the evacuation of Egypt by the French. He
took advantage of the discontent which he found to prevail amongst
the French troops at being so long away from France, and other
circumstances. He manifested great honour in sending immediately to
Kleber the refusal of Lord Keith to ratify the treaty, which saved
the French army; if he had kept it a secret seven or eight days
longer, Cairo would have been given up to the Turks, and the French
army necessarily obliged to surrender to the English. He also
showed great humanity and honour in all his proceedings towards the
French who felt into his hands. He landed at Havre, for some
'sotttice' of a bet he had made, according to some, to go to the
theatre; others said it was for espionage; however that may be, he
was arrested and confined in the Temple as a spy; and at one time it
was intended to try and execute him. Shortly after I returned from
Italy he wrote to me from his prison, to request that I would
intercede for him; but, under the circumstances in which he was
taken, I could do nothing for him. He is active, intelligent,
intriguing, and indefatigable; but I believe that he is 'mezzo

"The chief cause of the failure at Acre was, that he took all my
battering train, which was on board of several small vessels.
Had it not been for that, I would have taken Acre in spite of him.
He behaved very bravely, and was well seconded by Phillipeaux, a
Frenchman of talent, who had studied with me as an engineer. There
was a Major Douglas also, who behaved very gallantly. The
acquisition of five or six hundred seamen as gunners was a great
advantage to the Turks, whose spirits they revived, and whom they
showed how to defend the fortress. But he committed a great fault
in making sorties, which cost the lives of two or three hundred
brave fellows without the possibility of success. For it was
impossible he could succeed against the number of the French who
were before Acre. I would lay a wage that he lost half of his crew
in them. He dispersed Proclamations amongst my troops, which
certainly shook some of them, and I in consequence published an
order, stating that he was read, and forbidding all communication
with him. Some days after he sent, by means of a flag of truce,
a lieutenant or a midshipman with a letter containing a challenge to
me to meet him at some place he pointed out in order to fight a
duel. I laughed at this, sad sent him back an intimation that when
he brought Marlborough to fight me I would meet him. Not,
withstanding this, I like the character of the man." (Voices from
St. Helena, vol. 4, p. 208).]--

All our manoeuvres, our works, and attacks were made with that levity and
carelessness which over-confidence inspires. Kleber, whilst walking with
me one day in the lines of our camp, frequently expressed his surprise
and discontent. "The trenches," said, he, "do not come up to my knees."
Besieging artillery was, of necessity, required: we commenced with field
artillery. This encouraged the besieged, who perceived the weakness of
our resources. The besieging artillery, consisting only of three twenty-
four pounders and six, eighteen pounders, was not brought up until the
end of April, and before that period threw assaults had taken place with
very serious loss. On the 4th of May our powder began to fail us. This
cruel event obliged us to slacken our fire. We also wanted shot; and an
order of the day fixed a price to be given for all balls, according to
their calibre, which might be picked up after being fired from the
fortress or the two ships of the line, the 'Tiger' and 'Theseus', which
were stationed on each side of the harbour: These two vessels embarrassed
the communication, between the camp and the trenches; but though they
made much noise, they did little harm. A ball from one of them; killed
an officer on the evening the siege was raised.

The enemy had within the walls some excellent riflemen, chiefly
Albanians. They placed stones, one over the other, on the walls, put
their firearms through the interstices, and thus, completely sheltered,
fired with destructive precision.

On the 9th of April General Caffarelli, so well known for his courage and
talents, was passing through the trench, his hand resting as he stooped
on his hip, to preserve the equilibrium which his wooden leg, impaired;
his elbow only was raised above the trench. He was warned that the
enemy's shot, fired close upon us did not miss the smallest object.
He paid no attention to any observation of this kind, and in a few
instants his elbow joint was fractured. Amputation of the arm was judged
indispensable. The General survived the operation eighteen days.
Bonaparte went regularly twice a day to his tent. By his order, added to
my friendship for Caffarelli, I scarcely ever quitted him. Shortly
before he expired he said to me, "My dear Bourrienne, be so good as to
read to me Voltaire's preface to 'Esprit des Lois'." When I returned to
the tent of the General-in-Chief he asked, "How is Caffarelli?" I
replied, "He is near his end; but he asked me to read him Voltaire's
preface to the 'Esprit de Lois', he has just fallen asleep." Bonaparte
said, "Bah! to wish to hear that preface? how singular!" He went to see
Caffarelli, but he was still asleep. I returned to him that evening and
received his last breath. He died with the utmost composure. His death.
was equally regretted by the soldiers and the men of science, who
accompanied us. It was a just regret due to that distinguished man, in
whom very extensive information was united with great courage and amiable

On the 10th of May; when an assault took place, Bonaparte proceeded at an

early hour to the trenches.

--[Sir Sidney Smith, in his Official report of the assault of the

8th of May, says that Napoleon was distinctly seen directing the

Croisier, who was mentioned on our arrival at Damanhour and on the

capture of Jaffa, had in vain courted death since the commencement of the
siege. Life had become insupportable to him since the unfortunate affair
at Jaffa. He as usual accompanied his General to the trenches.
Believing that the termination of the siege, which was supposed to be
near, would postpone indefinitely the death which he sought, he mounted a
battery. In this situation his tall figure uselessly provoked all, the
enemy's shots. "Croisier, come down, I command you; you have no business
there," cried Bonaparte, in a loud and imperative tone. Croisier
remained without making any reply. A moment after a ball passed through
his right leg. Amputation was not considered, indispensable. On the day
of our departure he was placed on a litters which was borne by sixteen
men alternately, eight at a time. I received his farewell between Gaza
and El-Arish, where, he died of tetanus. His modest tomb will not be
often visited.

The siege of St. Jean d'Acre lasted sixty days. During that time eight-
assaults and-twelve sorties took place. In the assault of the 8th of May
more than 200 men penetrated into the town. Victory was already shouted;
but the breach having been taken in reverse by the Turks, it was not
approached without some degree of hesitation, and the men who had entered
were not supported. The streets were barricaded. The cries, the
howlings of the women, who ran trough the streets throwing, according to
the custom of the country, dust in the, air, excited the male inhabitants
to a desperate resistance, which rendered unavailing, this short
occupation of the town, by a handful of men, who, finding themselves left
without assistance, retreated towards the breach. Many who could not
reach it perished in the town.

During this assault Duroc, who was in the trench, was wounded in the
right thigh by the a splinter from a shell fired against the
fortifications. Fortunately this accident only carried away the flesh
from the bone, which remained untouched. He had a tent in common with
several other 'aides de camp'; but for his better accommodation I gave
him mine, and I scarcely ever quitted him. Entering his tent one day
about noon, I found him in a profound sleep. The excessive heat had
compelled him to throw off all covering, and part of his wound was
exposed. I perceived a scorpion which had crawled up the leg of the
camp-bed and approached very near to the wound. I was just in time to
hurl it to the ground. The sudden motion of my hand awoke Duroc.

We often bathed in the sea. Sometimes the English, perhaps after taking
a double allowance of grog, would fire at our heads, which appeared above
water. I am not aware that any accident was occasioned by their
cannonade; but as we were beyond reach of their guns, we paid scarcely
any attention to the firing. It was seen a subject of amusement to us.

Had our attack on St. Jean d'Acre been less precipitate, and had the
siege been undertaken according to the rules of war; the place would not
have held out three days; one assault, like that of the 8th of May, would
have been sufficient. If, in the situation in which we were on the day
when we first came in sight of the ramparts of Acre; we had made a less
inconsiderate estimate of the strength of the place; if we had likewise
taken into consideration the active co-operation of the English and the
Ottoman Porte; our absolute want of artillery of sufficient calibre; our
scarcity of gunpowder and the difficulty of procuring food; we certainly
should not have undertaken the siege; and that would have been by far the
wisest course.

Towards the end of the siege the General-in-Chief received intelligence

of some trifling insurrections in northern Egypt. An angel had excited
them, and the heavenly messenger, who had condescended to assume a name,
was called the Mahdi, or El Mohdy. This religious extravagance, however,
did not last long, and tranquillity was soon restored. All that the
fanatic Mahdi, who shrouded himself in mystery, succeeded in doing was to
attack our rear by some vagabonds, whose illusions were dissipated by a
few musket shots.



The siege of Acre raised--Attention to names is bulletins--Gigantic

project-- The Druses--Mount Caramel--The wounded and infected--
Order to march on foot--Loss of our cannon--A Nablousian fires at
Bonaparte--Return to Jaffa--Bonaparte visits the plague hospital--
A potion given to the sick--Bonaparte's statement at St. Helena.

The siege of St. Jean d'Acre was raised on the 20th of May. It cost us a
loss of nearly 3000 men, in killed, deaths by the plague, or wounds. A
great number were wounded mortally. In those veracious documents, the
bulletins, the French loss was made 500 killed, and 1000 wounded, and the
enemy's more than 15,000.

Our bulletins may form curious materials for history; but their value
certainly will not depend on the credit due to their details. Bonaparte
attached the greatest importance to those documents; generally drawing
them up himself, or correcting them, when written by another hand, if the
composition did not please him.

It must be confessed that at that time nothing so much flattered self-

love as being mentioned in a bulletin. Bonaparte was well aware of this;
he knew that to insert a name in a bulletin was conferring a great
honour, and that its exclusion was a severe disappointment. General
Berthier, to whom I had expressed a strong desire to examine the works of
the siege, took me over them; but notwithstanding his promise of secrecy;
he mentioned the circumstance to the General-in-Chief, who had desired me
not to approach the works. "What did you go there for?" said Bonaparte
to me, with some severity; "that is not your place." I replied that
Berthier told me that no assault would take place that day; and he
believed there would be no sortie, as the garrison had made one the
preceding evening. "What matters that? There might have been another.
Those who have nothing to do in such places are always the first victims.
Let every man mind his own business. Wounded or killed, I would not even
have noticed you in the bulletin. You could have been laughed at, and
that justly."

Bonaparte; not having at this time experienced reverses, having

continually proceeded from triumph to triumph, confidently anticipated
the taking of St, Jean d'Acre. In his letters to the generals in Egypt
he fixed the 25th of April for the accomplishment of that event. He
reckoned that the grand assault against the tower could not be made
before that day; it took place, however, twenty-four hours sooner. He
wrote to Desaix on the 19th of April, "I count on being master of Acre in
six days." On the 2d of May he told Junot, "Our 18 and 24 pounders have
arrived. We hope to enter Acre in a few days. The fire of their
artillery is completely extinguished." Letters have been printed, dated
30th Floreal' (19th. May), in which he announces to, Dugua and to
Poussielque that they can rely on his being in Acre on 6th Floreal
(25th April). Some mistake has evidently been made. "The slightest
circumstances produce the greatest events," said Napoleon, according to
the Memorial of St. Helena; "had St. Jean d'Acre fallen, I should have
changed the face of the world." And again, "The fate of the East lay in
that small town."

This idea is not one which he first began to entertain at St. Helena; he
often repeated the very same words at St. Jean d'Acre. On the shore of
Ptolemes gigantic projects agitated him, as, doubtless, regret for not
having carried them into execution tormented him at St. Helena.

Almost every evening Bonaparte and myself used to walk together, at a

little distance from the sea-shore. The day after the unfortunate
assault of the 8th of May Bonaparte, afflicted at seeing the blood of so
many brave men uselessly shed, said to me, "Bourrienne, I see that this
wretched place has cost me a number of men, and wasted much time. But
things are too far advanced not to attempt a last effort. If I succeed,
as I expect, I shall find in the town the pasha's treasures, and arms for
300,000 men. I will stir up and arm the people of Syria, who are
disgusted at the ferocity of Djezzar, and who, as you know, pray for his
destruction at every assault. I shall then march upon Damascus and.
Aleppo. On advancing into the country, the discontented will flock round
my standard, and swell my army. I will announce to the people the
abolition of servitude and of the tyrannical governments of the pashas.
I shall arrive at Constantinople with large masses of soldiers. I shall
overturn the Turkish empire, and found in the East a new and grand
empire, which will fix my place in the records of posterity. Perhaps
I shall return to Paris by Adrianople, or by Vienna, after having
annihilated the house of Austria." After I had made some observations
which these grand projects naturally suggested, he replied, "What! do you
not see that the Druses only wait for the fall of Acre to rise in
rebellion? Have not the keys of Damascus already been offered me?
I only stay till these walls fall because until then I can derive no
advantage from this large town. By the operation which I meditate I
cutoff all kind of succour from the beys, and secure the conquest of
Egypt. I will have Desaix nominated commander-in-chief; but if I do
not succeed in the last assault I am about to attempt, I set off
directly. Time presses,--I shall not be at Cairo before the middle of
June; the winds will then lie favourable for ships bound to Egypt, from
the north. Constantinople will send troops to Alexandria and Rosetta.
I must be there. As for the army, which will arrive afterwards by land,
I do not fear it this year. I will cause everything to be destroyed, all
the way, to the entrance of the desert. I will render the passage of an
army impossible for two years. Troops cannot exist amoung ruins."

As soon as I returned to my tent I committed to paper this conversation,

which was then quite fresh in my memory, and, I may venture to say that
every word I put down is correct. I may add, that during the siege our
camp was, constantly filled with the inhabitants, who invoked Heaven to
favour our arms, and prayed fervently at every assaualt for our success,
many of them on their knees, with their faces to the city. The people of
Damascus, too, had offered the keys to Bonaparte. Thus everything
contributed to make him confident in his favourite plan.

The troops left St. Jean d'Acre on the 20th of May, taking advantage of
the night to avoid a sortie from the besieged, and to conceal the retreat
of the army, which had to march three leagues along the shore, exposed to
the fire of the English vessels lying in the roads of Mount Carmel. The
removal of the wounded and sick commenced on the. 18th and 19th of May.

Bonaparte then made a proclamation, which from one end to the other
offends against truth. It has been published in many works. The season of
the year for hostile landing is there very dexterously placed in the
foreground; all the rest is a deceitful exaggeration. It must be observed
that the proclamations which Bonaparte regarded as calculated to dazzle
an ever too credulous public were amplifications often ridiculous and
incomprehensible upon the spot, and which only excited the laughter of
men of common sense. In all Bonaparte's correspondence there is an
endeavour to disguise his reverses, and impose on the public, and even on
his own generals. For example, he wrote to General Dugua, commandant of
Cairo, on the 15th of February, "I will bring you plenty of prisoners and
flags! "One would almost be inclined to say that he had resolved, during
his stay in the East, thus to pay a tribute to the country of fables.

--[The prisoners and flags were sent. The Turkish flags were
entrusted by Berthier to the Adjutant-Commandant Boyer, who
conducted a convoy of sick and wounded to Egypt. Sidney Smith
acknowledges the loss of some flags by the Turks. The Turkish
prisoners were used as carriers of the litters for the wounded, and
were, for the most part, brought into Egypt. (Erreurs, tome i. pp.
47 and 160)]--

Thus terminated this disastrous expedition. I have read somewhere that

during this immortal campaign the two heroes Murat and Mourad had often
been in face of one another. There is only a little difficulty; Mourad
Bey never put his foot in Syria.

We proceeded along the coast, and passed Mount Carmel. Some of the
wounded were carried on litters, the remainder on horses, mules, and
camels. At a short distance from Mount Carmel we were informed that
three soldiers, ill of the plague, who were left in a convent (which
served for a hospital), and abandoned too confidently to the generosity
of the Turks, had been barbarously put to death.
A most intolerable thirst, the total want of water, an excessive heat,
and a fatiguing march over burning sand-hills, quite disheartened the
men, and made every generous sentiment give way to feelings of the
grossest selfishness and most shocking indifference. I saw officers, with
their limbs amputated, thrown off the litters, whose removal in that way
had been ordered, and who had themselves given money to recompense the
bearers. I saw the amputated, the wounded, the infected, or those only
suspected of infection, deserted and left to themselves. The march was
illumined by torches, lighted for the purpose of setting fire to the
little towns, villages, and hamlets which lay in the route, and the rich
crops with which the land was then covered. The whole country was in a
blaze. Those who were ordered to preside at this work of destruction
seemed eager to spread desolation on every side, as if they could thereby
avenge themselves for their reverses, and find in such dreadful havoc an
alleviation of their sufferings. We were constantly surrounded by
plunderers, incendiaries, and the dying, who, stretched on the sides of
the road, implored assistance in a feeble voice, saying, "I am not
infected--I am only wounded;" and to convince those whom they addressed,
they reopened their old wounds, or inflicted on themselves fresh ones.
Still nobody attended to them. "It is all over with him," was the
observation applied to the unfortunate beings in succession, while every
one pressed onward. The sun, which shone in an unclouded sky in all its
brightness, was often darkened by our conflagrations. On our right lay
the sea; on our left, and behind us, the desert made by ourselves; before
were the privations and sufferings which awaited us. Such was our true

We reached Tentoura on the 20th of May, when a most oppressive heat

prevailed, and produced general dejection. We had nothing to sleep on but
the parched and burning sand; on our right lay a hostile sea; our losses
in wounded and sick were already considerable since leaving Acre; and
there was nothing consolatory in the future. The truly afflicting
condition in which the remains of an army called triumphant were plunged,
produced, as might well be expected, a corresponding impression on the
mind of the General-in-Chief. Scarcely had he arrived at Tentoura when
he ordered his tent to be pitched. He then called me, and with a mind
occupied by the calamities of our situation, dictated an order that every
one should march on foot; and that all the horses, mules, and camels
should be given up to the wounded, the sick, and infected who had been
removed, and who still showed signs of life. "Carry that to Berthier,"
said he; and the order was instantly despatched. Scarcely had I returned
to the tent when the elder Vigogne, the (General-in-Chief's groom),
entered, and raising his hand to his cap, said, "General, what horse do
you reserve for yourself?" In the state of excitement in which Bonaparte
wad this question irritated him so violently that, raising his whip, he
gave the man a severe blow on the head; saying in a terrible voice,
"Every-one must go on foot, you rascal--I the first--Do you not know the
order? Be off!"

Every one in parting with his horse was now anxious to avoid giving it to
any unfortunate individual supposed to be suffering from plague. Much
pains were taken to ascertain the nature of the diseases of the sick; and
no difficulty was made in accommodating the wounded of amputated. For my
part I had an excellent horse; a mule, and two camels, all which I gave
up with the greatest pleasure; but I confess that I directed my servant
to do all he could to prevent an infected person from getting my horse.
It was returned to me in a very short time. The same thing happened to
many others. The cause maybe easily conjectured.
The remains of our heavy artillery were lost in the moving sands of
Tentoura, from the want of horses, the small number that remained being
employed in more indispensable services. The soldiers seemed to forget
their own sufferings, plunged in grief at the loss of their bronze guns,
often the instruments of their triumphs, and which had made Europe

We halted at Caesarea on the 22d of May, and we marched all the following
night. Towards daybreak a man, concealed in a bush upon the left of the
road (the sea was two paces from us on the right), fired a musket almost
close to the head of the General-in-Chief, who was sleeping on his horse.
I was beside him. The wood being searched, the Nablousian was taken
without difficulty, and ordered to be shot on the spot. Four guides
pushed him towards the sea by thrusting their carbines against his back;
when close to the water's edge they drew the triggers, but all the four
muskets hung fire: a circumstance which was accounted for by the great
humidity of the night. The Nablousian threw himself into the water, and,
swimming with great agility and rapidity, gained a ridge of rocks so far
off that not a shot from the whole troop, which fired as it passed,
reached him. Bonaparte, who continued his march, desired me to wait for
Kleber, whose division formed the rear-guard, and to tell him not to
forget the Nablousian. He was, I believe, shot at last.

We returned to Jaffa on the 24th of May, and stopped there during the
25th, 26th, 27th, and 28th. This town had lately been the scene of a
horrible transaction, dictated by necessity, and it was again destined to
witness the exercise of the same dire law. Here I have a painful duty to
perform--I will perform it. I will state what I know, what I saw.

I have seen the following passage in a certain, work:--"Bonaparte,

having arrived at Jaffa, ordered three removals of the infected: one by
sea to Damietta, and also by land; the second to Gaza; and the third to
El-Arish!" So, many words, so many errors!

Some tents were pitched on an eminence near the gardens east of Jaffa.
Orders were given directly to undermine the fortifications and, blow them
up; and on the 27th of May, upon the signaling given, the town was in a
moment laid bare. An hour afterwards the General-in-Chief left his tent
and repaired to the town, accompanied by Berthier, some physicians and
surgeons, and his usual staff. I was also one of the party. A long and
sad deliberation took place on the question which now arose relative to
the men who were incurably ill of the plague, or who were at the point of
death. After a discussion of the most serious and conscientious kind it
was decided to accelerate a few moments, by a potion, a death which was
inevitable, and which would otherwise be painful and cruel.

Bonaparte took a rapid view of the destroyed ramparts of the town and
returned to the hospital, where there were men whose limbs had been
amputated, many wounded, many afflicted with ophthalmia, whose
lamentations were distressing, and some infected with the plague. The
beds of the last description of patients were to the right on entering
the first ward. I walked by the General's side, and I assert that I
never saw him touch any one of the infected. And why should he have done
so? They were in the last stage of the disease. Not one of them spoke a
word to him, and Bonaparte well knew that he possessed no protection
against the plague. Is Fortune to be again brought forward here? She
had, in truth, little favoured him during the last few months, when he
had trusted to her favours. I ask, why should he have exposed himself to
certain death, and have left his army in the midst of a desert created by
our ravages, in a desolate town, without succour, and without the hope of
ever receiving any? Would he have acted rightly in doing so--he who was
evidently so necessary, so indispensable to his army; he on whom depended
at that moment the lives of all who lead survived the last disaster, and
who had proved their attachment to him by their sufferings, their
privations, and their unshaken courage, and who had done all that he
could have required of men, and whose only trust was in him?

Bonaparte walked quickly through the rooms, tapping the yellow top of his
boot with a whip he held in his hand. As he passed along with hasty
steps he repeated these words: "The fortifications are destroyed.
Fortune was against me at St. Jean d'Acre. I must return to Egypt to
preserve it from the enemy, who will soon be there: In a few hours the
Turks will be here. Let all those who have strength enough rise and come
along with us. They shall be carried on litters and horses." There were
scarcely sixty cases of plague in the hospital; and all accounts stating
a greater number are exaggerated. The perfect silence, complete
dejection, and general stupor of the patients announced their approaching
end. To carry them away in the state in which they were would evidently
have been doing nothing else than inoculating the rest of the army with
the plague. I have, it is true, learned, since my return to Europe, that
some persons touched the infected with impunity; nay; that others went so
far as to inoculate themselves with the plague in order to learn how to
cure those whom it might attack. It certainly was a special protection
from Heaven to be preserved from it; but to cover in some degree the
absurdity of such a story, it is added that they knew how to elude the
danger, and that any one else who braved it without using precautions met
with death for their temerity. This is, in fact; the whole point of the
question. Either those privileged persons took indispensable
precautions; and in that case their boasted heroism is a mere juggler's
trick; or they touched the infected without using precautions, and
inoculated themselves with the plague, thus voluntarily encountering
death, and then the story is really a good one.

The infected were confided, it has been stated, to the head apothecary of
the army, Royer, who, dying in Egypt three years after, carried the
secret with him to the grave. But on a moment's reflection it will be
evident that the leaving of Royer alone in Jaffa would have been to
devote to certain death; and that a prompt and, cruel one, a man who was
extremely useful to the army, and who was at the time in perfect health.
It must be remembered that no guard could be left with him, and that the
Turks were close at our heels. Bonaparte truly said, while walking
through the rooms of the hospital, that the Turks would be at Jaffa in a
few hours. With this conviction, would he have left the head apothecary
in that town?

Recourse has been had to suppositions to support the contrary belief to

what I stag. For example, it is said that the infected patients were
embarked in ships of war. There were no such ships. Where had they
disembarked, who had received them; what had been done with them?
No one speaks of them. Others, not doubting that the infected men died
at Jaffa, say, that the rearguard under Kleber, by order of Bonaparte,
delayed its departure for three days, and only began its march when.
death had put an end to the sufferings of these unfortunate beings,
unshortened by any sacrifice. All this is incorrect. No rear-guard was
left--it could not be done. Pretence is made of forgetting that the
ramparts were destroyed, that the town--was as open and as defenceless as
any village, so this small rear-guard would have been left for certain
destruction. The dates themselves tell against these suppositions. It
is certain, as can be seen by the official account, that we arrived at
Jaffa on 24th May, and stayed there the 25th, 26th, and 27th. We left it
on the 28th. Thus the rear-guard, which, according to these writers;
left-on the 29th, did not remain, even according to their own hypothesis,
three days after the army to see the sick die. In reality it left on the
29th of May, the day after we did: Here are the very words of the Major-
General (Berthier) in his official account, written under the eye and
under the dictation of the Commander-in-Chief:--

The army arrived at Jaffa, 5th Prairial (24th May), and remained
there the 6th, 7th, and 8th (25th-27th May). This time was employed
in punishing the village, which had behaved badly. The
fortifications of Jaffa were blown up. All the iron guns of the
place were thrown into the sea. The wounded were removed by sea and
by land. There were only a few ships, and to give time to complete
the evacuation by land, the departure of the army had to be deferred
until the 9th (28th May). Klebers division formed the rear-guard,
and only left Jaffa, on the 10th (29th May).

The official report of what passed at Jaffa was drawn up by Berthier,

under the eye of Bonaparte. It has been published; but it may be
remarked that not a word about the infected, not a word of the visit to
the hospital, or the touching of the plague-patients with impunity, is
there mentioned. In no official report is anything said about the
matter. Why this silence? Bonaparte was not the man to conceal a fact
which would have afforded him so excellent and so allowable a text for
talking about his fortune. If the infected were removed, why not mention
it? Why be silent on so important an event? But it would have been
necessary to confess that being obliged to have recourse to so painful a
measure was the unavoidable consequence of this unfortunate expedition.
Very disagreeable details must have been entered into; and it was thought
more advisable to be silent on the subject.

But what did Napoleon, himself say on the subject at St. Helena? His
statement there was to the following, effect:--"I ordered a consultation
as to what was best to be done. The report which was made stated that
there were seven or eight men (the question is not about the number) so
dangerously ill that they could not live beyond twenty-four hours, and
would besides infect the rest of the army with the plague. It was
thought it would be an act of charity to anticipate their death a few,

Then comes the fable of the 500 men of the rear guard, who, it is
pretended, saw them die! I make no doubt that the story of the poisoning
was the invention of Den----. He was s babbler, who understood a story
badly, and repeated it worse. I do not think it would have been a crime
to have given opium to the infected. On the contrary, it would have been
obedience to the dictates of reason. Where is the man who would not, in
such a situation, have preferred a prompt death, to being exposed to the
lingering tortures inflicted by barbarians? If my child, and I believe I
love him as much as any father does his; had been in such a state; my
advice would have been the same; if I had been among the infected myself,
I should have demanded to be so treated.

Such was the reasoning at St. Helena, and such was the, view which he and
every one else took of the case twenty years ago at Jaffa.

Our little army arrived at Cairo on the 14th of June, after a painful and
harassing march of twenty-five days. The heats during the passage of the
desert between El-Arish and Belbeis exceeded thirty-three degrees. On
placing the bulb of the thermometer in the sand the mercury rose to
forty-five degrees. The deceitful mirage was even more vexatious than in
the plains of Bohahire'h. In spite of our experience an excessive
thirst, added to a perfect illusion, made us goad on our wearied horses
towards lakes which vanished at our approach; and left behind nothing but
salt and arid sand. In two days my cloak was completely covered with
salt, left on it after the evaporation of the moisture which held it in
solution. Our horses, who ran eagerly to the brackish springs of the
desert, perished in numbers; after travelling about a quarter of a league
from the spot where they drank the deleterious fluid.

Bonaparte preceded his entry into the capital of Egypt by one of those
lying bulletins which only imposed on fools. "I will bring with me,"
said he, "many prisoners and flags. I have razed the palace of the
Djezzar and the ramparts of Acre--not a stone remains upon another, All
the inhabitants have left the city, by sea. Djezzar is severely

I confess that I experienced a painful sensation in writing, by his

dictation, these official words, everyone of which was an imposition.
Excited by all I had just witnessed, it was difficult for me to refrain
from making the observation; but his constant reply was, "My dear fellow,
you are a simpleton: you do not understand this business." And he
observed, when signing the bulletin, that he would yet fill the world
with admiration, and inspire historians and poets.

Our return to Cairo has been attributed to the insurrections which broke
out during the unfortunate expedition into Syria. Nothing is more
incorrect. The term insurrection cannot be properly applied to the
foolish enterprises of the angel El-Mahdi in the Bohahire'h, or to the
less important disturbances in the Charkyeh. The reverses experienced
before St. Jean d'Acre, the fear, or rather the prudent anticipation of a
hostile landing, were sufficient motives, and the only ones, for our
return to Egypt. What more could we do in Syria but lose men and time,
neither of which the General had to spare?



Murat and Moarad Bey at the Natron Lakes--Bonapartes departure for

the Pyramids--Sudden appearance of an Arab messenger--News of
the landing of the Turks at Aboukir--Bonaparte marches against
them--They are immediately attacked and destroyed in the battle of
Aboukir--Interchange of communication with the English--Sudden
determination to return to Europe--Outfit of two frigates--
Bonaparte's dissimulation--His pretended journey to the Delta--
Generous behaviour of Lanusee--Bonaparte's artifice--His bad
treatment of General Kleber.

Bonaparte had hardly set foot in Cairo when he was, informed that the
brave and indefatigable Mourad Bey was descending by the Fayoum, in order
to form a junction with reinforcements which had been for some time past
collected in the Bohahire'h. In all probability this movement of Mourad
Bey was the result of news he had received respecting plans formed at
Constantinople, and the landing which took place a short time after in
the roads of Aboukir. Mourad had selected the Natron Lakes for his place
of rendezvous. To these lakes Murat was despatched. The Bey no sooner
got notice of Murat's presence than he determined to retreat and to
proceed by the desert to Gizeh and the great Pyramids. I certainly never
heard, until I returned to France, that Mourad had ascended to the summit
of the great Pyramid for the propose of passing his time in contemplating

Napoleon said at St. Helena that Murat might have taken Mourad Bey had
the latter remained four-and-twenty hours longer in the Natron Lakes: Now
the fact is, that as soon as the Bey heard of Murat's arrival he was off
The Arabian spies were far more serviceable to our enemies than to us; we
had not, indeed, a single friend in Egypt. Mourad Bey, on being informed
by the Arabs, who acted as couriers for him, that General Desaix was
despatching a column from the south of Egypt against him, that the
General-in-Chief was also about to follow his footsteps along the
frontier of Gizeh, and that the Natron Lakes and the Bohahire'h were
occupied by forces superior to his own, retired into Fayoum.

Bonaparte attached great importance to the destruction of Mourad, whom he

looked upon as the bravest, the most active, and most dangerous of his
enemies in Egypt. As all accounts concurred in stating that Mourad,
supported by the Arabs, was hovering about the skirts of the desert of
the province of Gizeh, Bonaparte proceeded to the Pyramids, there to
direct different corps against that able and dangerous partisan. He,
indeed, reckoned him so redoubtable that lie wrote to Murat, saying he
wished fortune might reserve for him the honour of putting the seal on
the conquest of Egypt by the destruction of this opponent.

On the 14th of July Bonaparte left Cairo for the Pyramids. He intended
spending three or four days in examining the ruins of the ancient
necropolis of Memphis; but he was suddenly obliged to alter his plan.
This journey to the Pyramids, occasioned by the course of war, has given
an opportunity for the invention of a little piece of romance. Some
ingenious people have related that Bonaparte gave audiences to the mufti
and ulemas, and that on entering one of the great Pyramids he cried out,
"Glory to Allah! God only is God, and Mahomet is his prophet!" Now the
fact is, that Bonaparte never even entered the great Pyramid. He never
had any thought of entering it:--I certainly should have accompanied him
had he done so for I never quitted his side a single moment in the desert
He caused some person to enter into one of the great Pyramids while he
remained outside, and received from them, on their return, an account of
what they had seen. In other words, they informed him there was nothing,
to be seen!

On the evening of the 15th of July, while we were taking a walk, we

perceived, on the road leading from Alexandria, an Arab riding up to us
in all haste. He brought to the General-in-Chief a despatch from General
Marmont, who was entrusted with the command of Alexandria, and who had
conducted himself so well, especially during the dreadful ravages of the
plague, that he had gained the unqualified approbation of Bonaparte. The
Turks had landed on the 11th of July at Aboukir, under the escort and
protection of English ships of war. The news of the landing of from
fifteen to sixteen thousand men did not surprise Bonaparte, who had for
some time expected it. It was, not so, however, with the generals most in
his favor; whose apprehensions, for reasons which may be conjectured, he
had endeavoured to calm. He had even written to Marmont, who, being in
the most exposed situation, had the more reason to be vigilant, in these

The army which was to have appeared before Alexandria, and which
left Constantinople on the 1st of the Ramadhan, has been destroyed
under the walls of Acre. If, however, that mad Englishman (Smith)
has embarked the remains of that army in order to convey them to
Aboukir, I do not believe there can be more than 2000 men.

He wrote in the following strain to General Dugua, who had the command of

The English Commander, who has summoned Damietta, is a madman. The

combined army they speak of has been destroyed before Acre, where it
arrived a fortnight before we left that place.

As soon as he arrived at Cairo, in a letter he despatched to Desaix, he


The time has now arrived when disembarkations have become

practicable. I shall lose no time in getting ready. The
probabilities, however, are, that none will take place this year.

What other language could he hold, when he had proclaimed when after, the
raising of the siege of Acre, that he had destroyed those 15,000 men who
two months after landed at Aboukir?

No sooner had Bonaparte perused the contents of Marmont's letter than he

retired into his tent and dictated to me, until three in the morning, his
orders for the departure of the troops, and for the routes he wished to
be pursued during his absence by the troops who should remain in the
interior. At this moment I observed in him the development of that
vigorous character of mind which was excited by obstacles until he
overcame them--that celerity of thought which foresaw everything. He was
all action, and never for a moment hesitated. On the 16th of July, at
four in the morning, he was on horseback and the army in full march.
I cannot help doing justice to the presence of mind, promptitude of
decision, and rapidity of execution which at this period of his life
never deserted him on great occasions.

We reached Ouardan, to the north of Gizeh, on the evening of the 16th;

on the 19th we arrived at Rahmalianie'h, and on the 23d at Alexandria,
where every preparation was made for that memorable battle which, though
it did not repair the immense losses and fatal consequences of the naval
conflict of the same name, will always recall to the memory of Frenchmen
one of the most brilliant achievements of their arms.

--[As M. de Bourrienne gives no details of the battle, the

following extract from the Due do Rovigo's Memoirs, tome i, p. 167,
will supply the deficiency:

"General Bonaparte left Cairo in the utmost haste to place himself

at the head of the troops which he had ordered to quit their
cantonments and march down to the coast.

"Whilst the General was making these arrangements and coming in

person from Cairo, the troops on board the Turkish fleet had
effected a landing and taken possession of the fort of Aboukir, and
of a redoubt placed behind the village of that name which ought to
have been put into a state of defence six months before, but had
been completely neglected.

"The Turks had nearly destroyed the weak garrisons that occupied
those two military points when General Marmont (who commanded at
Alexandria) came to their relief. This general, seeing the two
posts in the power of the Turks, returned to shut himself up in
Alexandria, where he would probably have been blockaded by the
Turkish army had it not been for the arrival of General Bonaparte
with his forces, who was very angry when he saw that the fort and
redoubt had been taken; but he did not blame Marmont for retreating
to Alexandria with the forces at his disposal.

"General Bonaparte arrived at midnight with his guides and the

remaining part of his army, and ordered the Turks to be attacked the
next morning. In this battle, as in the preceding ones, the attack,
the encounter, and the rout were occurrences of a moment, and the
result of a single movement on the part of our troops. The whole
Turkish army plunged into the sea to regain its ships, leaving
behind them everything they had brought on shore.

"Whilst this event was occurring on the seashore a pasha had left
the field of battle with a corps of about 3000 men in order to throw
himself, into the fort of Aboukir. They soon felt the extremities
of thirst, which compelled them, after the lapse of a few days, to
surrender unconditionally to General Menou, who was left to close,
the operations connected with the recently defeated Turkish army."]

After the-battle, which took place on the 25th of July, Bonaparte sent a
flag of truce on board the English Admiral's ship. Our intercourse was
full of politeness, such as might be expected in the communications of
the people of two civilised nations. The English Admiral gave the flag
of truce some presents in exchange for some we sent, and likewise a copy
of the French Gazette of Frankfort, dated 10th of June 1799. For ten
months we had received no news from France. Bonaparte glanced over this
journal with an eagerness which may easily be conceived.

--[The French, on their return from St. Jean d'Acre were totally
ignorant of all that had taken place in Europe far several months.
Napoleon, eager to obtain Intelligence, sent a flag of trace on
board the Turkish admiral's ship, under the pretence of treating for
the ransom of the Prisoners taken at Aboukir, not doubting but the
envoy would be stopped by Sir Sidney Smith, who carefully prevented
all direct communication between the French and the Turks.
Accordingly the French flag of truce received directions from Sir
Sidney to go on board his ship. He experienced the handsomest
treatment; and the English commander having, among other things,
ascertained that the disasters of Italy were quite unknown to
Napoleon, indulged in the malicious pleasure of sending him a file
of newspapers. Napoleon spent the whole night in his tent perusing
the papers; and he came to the determination of immediately
proceeding to Europe to repair the disasters of France; and if
possible, to save her from destruction (Memorial de Sainte Helene)].

"Heavens!" said he to me, "my presentiment is verified: the fools have

lost Italy. All the fruits of our victories are gone! I must leave
He sent for Berthier, to whom he communicated the news, adding that
things were going on very badly in France--that he wished to return home
--that he (Berthier) should go along with him, and that, for the present,
only he, Gantheaume, and I were in the secret. He recommended Berthier
to be prudent, not to betray any symptoms of joy, nor to purchase or sell
anything, and concluded by assuring him that he depended on him. "I can
answer," said he, "for myself and for Bourrienne." Berthier promised to
be secret, and he kept his word. He had had enough of Egypt, and he so
ardently longed to return to France, that there was little reason to fear
he would disappoint himself by any indiscretion.

Gantheaume arrived, and Bonaparte gave him orders to fit out the two
frigates, the 'Muiron' and the 'Carree', and the two small vessels, the
'Revanche' and the 'Fortune', with a two months' supply of provisions for
from four to five hundred men. He enjoined his secrecy as to the object
of these preparations, and desired him to act with such circumspection
that the English cruisers might have no knowledge of what was going on.
He afterwards arranged with Gantheaume the course he wished to take. No
details escaped his attention.

Bonaparte concealed his preparations with much care, but still some vague
rumours crept abroad. General Dueua, the commandant of Cairo, whom he
had just left for the purpose of embarking, wrote to him on the 18th of
August to the following effect:

I have this moment heard that it is reported at the Institute you

are about to return to France, taking with you Monge, Berthollet,
Berthier, Lannes, and Murat. This news has spread like lightning
through the city, and I should not be at all surprised if it produce
an unfavourable effect, which, however, I hope you will obviate.

Bonaparte embarked five days after the receipt of Dugua's letter, and, as
may be supposed; without replying to it.

On the 18th of August he wrote to the divan of Cairo as follows:

I set out to-morrow for Menouf, whence I intend to make various

excursions in the Delta, in order that I may myself witness the acts
of oppression which are committed there, and acquire some knowledge
of the people.

He told the army but half the truth:

The news from Europe (said he) has determined me to proceed to

France. I leave the command of the army to General Kleber. The
army shall hear from me forthwith. At present I can say no more.
It costs me much pain to quit troops to whom I am so strongly
attached. But my absence will be but temporary, and the general I
leave in command has the confidence of the Government as well as

I have now shown the true cause of General Bonaparte's departure for
Europe. This circumstance, in itself perfectly natural, has been the
subject of the most ridiculous conjectures to those who always wish to
assign extraordinary causes for simple events. There is no truth
whatever in the assertion of his having planned his departure before the
battle of Aboukir. Such an idea never crossed his mind. He had no
thought whatever of his departure for France when he made the journey to
the Pyramids, nor even when he received the news of the landing of the
Anglo-Turkish force.

At the end of December 1798 Bonaparte thus wrote to the Directory: "We
are without any news from France. No courier has arrived since the month
of June."

Some writers have stated that we received news by the way of Tunis,
Algiers, or Morocco; but there is no contradicting a positive fact. At
that period I had been with Bonaparte more than two years, and during
that time not a single despatch on any occasion arrived of the contents
of which I was ignorant. How then should the news alluded to have
escaped me?

--[Details on the question of the correspondence of Napoleon with

France while he was to Egypt will be found in Colonel Iung's work,
Lucien Bonaparte (Paris. Charpentler, 1882), tome i. pp. 251-274.
It seems most probable that Napoleon was in occasional communication
with his family and with some of the Directors byway of Tunis and
Tripoli. It would not be his interest to let his army or perhaps
even Bourrienne know of the disasters in Italy till he found that
they were sure to hear of them through the English. This would
explain his affected ignorance till such a late date. On the 11th
of April Barras received a despatch by which Napoleon stated his
intention of returning to France if the news brought by Hamelin was
confirmed. On the 26th of May 1799 three of the Directors, Barras,
Rewbell, and La Reveillier-Lepeaux, wrote to Napoleon that Admiral
Bruix had been ordered to attempt every means of bringing back his
army. On the 15th of July Napoleon seems to have received this and
other letters. On the 20th of July he warns Admiral Gantheaume to
be ready to start. On the 11th of September the Directors formally
approved the recall of the army from Egypt. Thus at the time
Napoleon landed in France (on the 8th October), his intended return
had been long known to and approved by the majority of the
Directors, and had at last been formally ordered by the Directory.
At the most he anticipated the order. He cannot be said to have
deserted his post. Lantrey (tome i. p. 411) remarks that the
existence and receipt of the letter from Joseph denied by Bourrienne
is proved by Miot (the commissary, the brother of Miot de Melito)
and by Joseph himself. Talleyrand thanks the French Consul at
Tripoli for sending news from Egypt, and for letting Bonaparte know
what passed in Europe. See also Ragusa (Marmont), tome i. p. 441,
writing on 24th December 1798: "I have found an Arab of whom I am
sure, and who shall start to-morrow for Derne . . . . This means
can be need to send a letter to Tripoli, for boats often go there."]

Almost all those who endeavour to avert from Bonaparte the reproach of
desertion quote a letter from the Directory, dated the 26th of May 1799.
This letter may certainly have been written, but it never reached its
destination. Why then should it be put upon record?

The circumstance I have stated above determined the resolution of

Bonaparte, and made him look upon Egypt as, an exhausted field of glory,
which it was high time he had quitted, to play another part in France.
On his departure from Europe Bonaparte felt that his reputation was
tottering. He wished to do something to raise up his glory, and to fix
upon him the attention of the world. This object he had in great part
accomplished; for, in spite of serious disasters, the French flag waved
over the cataracts of the Nile and the ruins of Memphis, and the battles
of the Pyramids, and Aboukir were calculated in no small degree to
dazzle; the imagination. Cairo and Alexandria too were ours. Finding.
that the glory of his arms no longer supported the feeble power of the
Directory, he was anxious to see whether: he could not share it, or
appropriate it to himself.

A great deal has been said about letters and Secret communications from
the Directory, but Bonaparte needed no such thing. He could do what he
pleased: there was no power to check him; such had been the nature of
his arrangements an leaving France. He followed only the dictates of his
own will, and probably, had not the fleet been destroyed; he would have
departed from Egypt much sooner. To will and to do were with him one and
the same thing. The latitude he enjoyed was the result of his verbal
agreement with the Directory, whose instructions and plans he did not
wish should impede his operations.

Bonaparte left Alexandria on the 5th of August, and on the 10th arrived
at Cairo. He at first circulated the report of a journey to Upper Egypt.
This seemed so much the more reasonable, as he had really entertained
that design before he went to the Pyramids, and the fact was known to the
army and the inhabitants of Cairo. Up to this time our secret had been
studiously kept. However, General Lanusse, the commandant at Menouf,
where we arrived on the 20th of August, suspected it. "You are going to
France," said he to me. My negative reply confirmed his suspicion. This
almost induced me to believe the General-in-Chief had been the first to
make the disclosure. General Lanusse, though he envied our good fortune,
made no complaints. He expressed his sincere wishes for our prosperous
voyage, but never opened his mouth on the subject to any one.

On the 21st of August we reached the wells of Birkett. The Arabs had
rendered the water unfit for use, but the General-in-Chief was resolved
to quench his thirst, and for this purpose squeezed the juice of several
lemons into a glass of the water; but he could not swallow it without
holding his nose and exhibiting strong feelings of disgust.

The next day we reached Alexandria, where the General informed all those,
who had accompanied him from Cairo that France was their destination.
At this announcement joy was pictured in every countenance.

General Kleber, to whose command Bonaparte had resigned the army, was
invited to come from Damietta to Rosette to confer with the General-in-
Chief on affairs of extreme importance. Bonaparte, in making an
appointment which he never intended to keep, hoped to escape the
unwelcome freedom of Kleber's reproaches. He afterwards wrote to him all
he had to say; and the cause he assigned for not keeping his appointment
was, that his fear of being observed by the English cruisers had forced
him to depart three days earlier than he intended. But when he wrote
Bonaparte well knew that he would be at sea before Kleber could receive
his letter. Kleber, in his letter to the Directory, complained bitterly
of this deception. The singular fate that befell this letter will be
seen by and by.



Our departure from Egypt--Nocturnal embarkation--M. Parseval

Grandmaison--On course--Adverse winds--Fear of the English--
Favourable weather--Vingt-et-un-Chess--We land at Ajaccio--
Bonaparte's pretended relations--Family domains--Want of money--
Battle of Novi--Death of Joubert--Visionary schemes--Purchase of a
boat--Departure from Corsica--The English squadron--Our escape--
The roads of Frejus--Our landing in France--The plague or the
Austrians--Joy of the people--The sanitary laws--Bonaparte falsely

We were now to return to our country--again to cross the sea, to us so

pregnant with danger--Caesar and his fortune were once more to embark.
But Caesar was not now advancing to the East to add Egypt to the
conquests of the Republic. He was revolving in his mind vast schemes,
unawed by the idea of venturing everything to chance in his own favour
the Government for which he had fought. The hope of conquering the most
celebrated country of the East no longer excited the imagination, as on
our departure from France. Our last visionary dream had vanished before
the walls of St. Jean d'Acre, and we were leaving on the burning sands of
Egypt most of our companions in arms. An inconceivable destiny seemed to
urge us on, and we were obliged to obey its decrees.

On the 23d of August we embarked on board two frigates, the 'Muiron'

--[Named after Bonaparte's aide de camp filled in the Italian


and 'Carrere'. Our number was between four and five hundred. Such was
our squadron, and such the formidable army with which Bonaparte had
resolved, as he wrote to the divan of Cairo, "to annihilate all his
enemies." This boasting might impose on those who did not see the real
state of things; but what were we to think of it? What Bonaparte himself
thought the day after.

The night was dark when we embarked in the frigates which lay at a
considerable distance from the port of Alexandria; but by the faint light
of the stars we perceived a corvette, which appeared to be observing our
silent nocturnal embarkation.

--[The horses of the escort had been left to run loose on the beach,
and all was perfect stillness in Alexandria, when the advanced posts
of the town were alarmed by the wild galloping of horses, which from
a natural instinct, were returning to Alexandria through the desert.
The picket ran to arms on seeing horses ready saddled and bridled,
which were soon discovered to belong to the regiment of guides.
They at first thought that a misfortune had happened to some
detachment in its pursuit of the Arabs. With these horses came also
those of the generals who had embarked with General Bonaparte; so
that Alexandria was for a time in considerable alarm. The cavalry
was ordered to proceed in all haste in the direction whence the
horses came, and every one was giving himself up to the most gloomy
conjectures, when the cavalry returned to the city with the Turkish
groom, who was bringing back General Bonaparte's horse to Alexandria
(Memoirs of the Due de Rovigo, tome i. p. 182).]--

Next morning, just as we were on the point of setting sail, we saw.

coming from the port of Alexandria a boat, on board of which was M.
Parseval Grandmaison. This excellent man, who was beloved by all of us,
was not included among the persons whose, return to France had been
determined by the General-in-Chief. In his anxiety to get off Bonaparte
would not hear of taking him on board. It will readily be conceived how
urgent were the entreaties of Parseval; but he would have sued in vain
had not Gantheaume, Bionge, Berthollet, and I interceded for him. With
some difficulty we overcame Bonaparte's resistance, and our colleague of
the Egyptian Institute got on board after the wind had filled our sails.

It has been erroneously said that Admiral Gantheaume had full control of
the frigates, as if any one could command when Bonaparte was present.
On the contrary, Bonaparte declared to the admiral, in my hearing, that
he would not take the ordinary course and get into the open sea. "Keep
close along the coast of the Mediterranean," said he, "on the, African
side, until you get south of Sardinia. I have here a handful of brave
fellows and a few pieces of artillery; if the. English should appear I
will run ashore, and with my, party, make my way by land to Oran, Tunis,
or some other port, whence we may find an opportunity of getting home."
This, was his irrevocable determination.

For twenty-one days adverse winds, blowing from west or north-west, drove
us continually on the coast of Syria, or in the direction of Alexandria.
At one time it was even proposed that we should again put into the port;
but Bonaparte declared he would rather, brave every danger than do so.
During the day we tacked to a certain distance northward, and in the
evening we stood towards Africa, until we came within, sight of the
coast. Finally after no less than twenty-one days of impatience and
disappointment, a favourable east wind carried us past that point of
Africa on which Carthage formerly stood, and we soon doubled Sardinia.
We kept very near the western coast of that island, where Bonaparte had
determined to land in case of our falling in with the English, squadron.
From, thence his plan was to reach Corsica, and there to await a
favourable opportunity of returning to France.

Everything had contributed to render our voyage dull and monotonous; and,
besides, we were not entirely without uneasiness as to the steps which
might be taken by the Directory, for it was certain that the publication
of the intercepted correspondence must have occasioned many unpleasant
disclosures. Bonaparte used often to walk on deck to superintend the
execution of his orders. The smallest sail that appeared in view excited
his alarm.

The fear of falling into the hands of the English never forsook him.
That was what he dreaded most of all, and yet, at a subsequent period, he
trusted to the generosity of his enemies.

However, in spite of our well-founded alarm, there were some moments in

which we sought to amuse ourselves, or, to use a common expression, to
kill time. Cards afforded us s source of recreation, and even this
frivolous amusement served to develop the character of Bonaparte. In
general he was not fond of cards; but if he did play, vingt-et-un was his
favourite game, because it is more rapid than many others, and because,
in short, it afforded him an opportunity of cheating. For example, he
would ask for a card; if it proved a bad one he would say nothing, but
lay it down on the table and wait till the dealer had drawn his. If the
dealer produced a good card, then Bonaparte would throw aside his hand,
without showing it, and give up his stake. If, on the contrary, the
dealer's card made him exceed twenty-one, Bonaparte also threw his cards
aside without showing them, and asked for the payment of his stake. He
was much diverted by these little tricks, especially when they were
played off undetected; and I confess that even then we were courtiers
enough to humour him, and wink at his cheating. I must, however, mention
that he never appropriated to himself the fruit of these little
dishonesties, for at the end of the game he gave up all his winnings, and
they were equally divided. Gain, as may readily be supposed, was not his
object; but he always expected that fortune would grant him an ace or a
ten at the right moment with the same confidence with which he looked for
fine weather on the day of battle. If he were disappointed he wished
nobody to know it.

Bonaparte also played at chess, but very seldom, because he was only a
third-rate player, and he did not like to be beaten at that game, which,
I know not why, is said to bear a resemblance to the grand game of war.
At this latter game Bonaparte certainly feared no adversary. This
reminds me that when we were leaving Passeriano he announced his
intention of passing through Mantua.

He was told that the commandant of that town, I believe General Beauvoir,
was a great chess-player, and he expressed a wish to play a game with
him: General Beauvoir asked him to point out any particular pawn with
which he would be checkmated; adding, that if the pawn were taken, he,
Bonaparte, should be declared the winner. Bonaparte pointed out the last
pawn on the left of his adversary. A mark was put upon it, and it turned
out that he actually was checkmated with that very pawn. Bonaparte was
not very well pleased at this. He liked to play with me because, though
rather a better player than himself, I was not always able to beat him.
As soon as a game was decided in his favour he declined playing any
longer; preferring to rest on his laurels.

The favourable wind which had constantly prevailed after the first twenty
days of our voyage still continued while we kept along the coast of
Sardinia; but after we had passed that island the wind again blew
violently from the west, and on the 1st of October we were forced to
enter the Gulf of Ajaccio. We sailed again next day but we found it
impossible to work our way out of the gulf. We were therefore obliged to
put into the port and land at Ajaccio. Adverse winds obliged us to
remain there until the 7th of October. It may readily be imagined how
much this delay annoyed Bonaparte. He sometimes expressed his
impatience, as if he could enforce the obedience of the elements as well
as of men. He was losing time, and time was everything to him.

There was one circumstance which seemed to annoy him as much as any of
his more serious vexations. "What will become of me," said he, "if the
English, who are cruising hereabout, should learn that I have landed in
Corsica? I shall be forced to stay here. That I could never endure. I
have a torrent of relations pouring upon me." His great reputation had
certainly prodigiously augmented the number of his family. He was over
whelmed with visits, congratulations, and requests. The whole town was
in a commotion. Every one of its inhabitants wished to claim him as
their cousin; and from the-prodigious number of his pretended godsons and
goddaughters, it might have been supposed that he had held one-fourth of
the children of Ajaccio at the baptismal font.

Bonaparte frequently walked with us in the neighbourhood of Ajaccio; and

when in all the plenitude of his power he did not count his crowns with
greater pleasure than he evinced in pointing out to us the little domains
of his ancestors.

While we were at, Ajaccio M. Fesch gave Bonaparte French money in,
exchange for a number of Turkish sequins, amounting in value to 17,000
francs: This sum was all that the General brought with him from Egypt.
I mention this fact because he was unjustly calumniated in letters
written after his departure, and which were intercepted and published by
the English: I ought also to add, that as he would never for his own
private use resort to the money-chest of the army, the contents of which
were, indeed, never half sufficient to defray the necessary expenses, he
several times drew on Genoa, through M. James, and on the funds he
possessed in the house of Clary, 16,000, 25,000, and up to 33,000 francs.
I can bear witness that in Egypt I never saw him touch any money beyond
his pay; and that he left the country poorer than he had entered it is a
fact that cannot be denied. In his notes on Egypt it appears that in one
year 12,600,000 francs were received. In this sum were included at least
2,000,000 of contributions, which were levied at the expense of many
decapitations. Bonaparte was fourteen months in Egypt, and he is said to
have brought away with him 20,000,000. Calumny may be very gratifying to
certain persons, but they should at least give it a colouring of
probability. The fact is, that Bonaparte had scarcely enough to maintain
himself at Ajaccio and to defray our posting expenses to Paris.

On our arrival at Ajaccio we learnt the death of Joubert, and the loss of
the battle of Novi, which was fought on the 15th of August. Bonaparte
was tormented by anxiety; he was in a state of utter uncertainty as to
the future. From the time we left Alexandria till our arrival in Corsica
he had frequently talked of what he should do during the quarantine,
which he supposed he would be required to observe on reaching Toulon, the
port at which he had determined to land.

Even then he cherished some illusions respecting the state of affairs;

and he often said to me, "But for that confounded quarantine, I would
hasten ashore, and place myself at the head of the army of Italy. All is
not over; and I am sure that there is not a general who would refuse me
the command. The news of a victory gained by me would reach Paris as
soon as the battle of Aboukir; that, indeed, would be excellent."

In Corsica his language was very different. When he was informed of our
reverses, and saw the full extent of the evil, he was for a moment
overwhelmed. His grand projects then gave way to the consideration of
matters of minor import, and he thought about his detention in the
Lazaretto of Toulon. He spoke of the Directory, of intrigues, and of
what would be said of him. He accounted his enemies those who envied
him, and those who could not be reconciled to his glory and the influence
of his name. Amidst all these anxieties Bonaparte was outwardly calm,
though he was moody and reflective.

Providing against every chance of danger, he had purchased at Ajaccio a

large launch which was intended to be towed by the 'Hetciron', and it was
manned by twelve of the best sailors the island could--furnish. His
resolution was, in case of inevitable danger, to jump into this boat and
get ashore. This precaution had well-nigh proved useful.

--[Sir Walter Scott, at the commencement of his Life of Napoleon,

says that Bonaparte did not see his native City after 1793.
Probably to avoid contradicting himself, the Scottish historian
observes that Bonaparte was near Ajaccio on his return from Egypt.
He spent eight days there.--Bourrienne.]--

After leaving the Gulf of Ajaccio the voyage was prosperous and
undisturbed for one day; but on the second day, just at sunset, an
English squadron of fourteen sail hove in sight. The English, having
advantage of the lights which we had in our faces, saw us better than we
could see them. They recognised our two frigates as Venetian built; but
luckily for us, night came on, for we were not far apart. We saw the
signals of the English for a long time, and heard the report of the guns
more and more to our left, and we thought it was the intention of the
cruisers to intercept us on the south-east. Under these circumstances
Bonaparte had reason to thank fortune; for it is very evident that had
the English suspected our two frigates of coming from the East and going
to France, they would have shut us out from land by running between us
and it, which to them was very easy. Probably they took us for a convoy
of provisions going from Toulon to Genoa; and it was to this error and
the darkness that we were indebted for escaping with no worse consequence
than a fright.

--[Here Bourrienne says in a note "Where did Sir Walter Scott learn
that we were neither seen nor recognised? We were not recognised,
but certainly seen," This is corroborated by the testimony of the
Due de Rovigo, who, in his Memoirs, says, "I have met officers of
the English navy who assured me that the two frigates had been seen
but were considered by the Admiral to belong to his squadron, as
they steered their course towards him; and as he knew we had only
one frigate in the Mediterranean, and one in Toulon harbour, he was
far from supposing that the frigates which he had descried could
have General Bonaparte on board " (Savary, tome i. p. 226).]--

During the remainder of the night the utmost agitation prevailed on board
the Muiron. Gantheaume especially was in a state of anxiety which it is
impossible to describe, and which it was painful to witness: he was quite
beside himself, for a disaster appeared inevitable. He proposed to
return to Corsica. "No, no!" replied Bonaparte imperiously. "No!
Spread all sail! Every man at his post! To the north-west! To the
north-west!" This order saved us; and I am enabled to affirm that in the
midst of almost general alarm Bonaparte was solely occupied in giving
orders. The rapidity of his judgment seemed to grow in the face of
danger. The remembrance of that night will never be effaced from my
mind. The hours lingered on; and none of us could guess upon what new
dangers the morrow's sun would shine.

However, Bonaparte's resolution was taken: his orders were given, his
arrangements made. During the evening he had resolved upon throwing
himself into the long boat; he had already fixed on the persons who were
to share his fate, and had already named to me the papers which he
thought it most important to save. Happily our terrors were vain and our
arrangements useless. By the first rays of the sun we discovered the
English fleet sailing to the north-east, and we stood for the wished-for
coast of France.

The 8th of October, at eight in the morning, we entered the roads of

Frejus. The sailors not having recognised the coast during the night, we
did not know where we were. There was, at first, some hesitation whether
we should advance. We were by no means expected, and did not know how to
answer the signals, which has been changed during our absence. Some guns
were even fired upon us by the batteries on the coast; but our bold entry
into the roads, the crowd upon the decks of the two frigates, and our
signs of joy, speedily banished all doubt of our being friends. We were
in the port, and approaching the landing-place, when the rumour spread
that Bonaparte was on board one of the frigates. In an instant the sea
was covered with boats. In vain we begged them to keep at a distance; we
were carried ashore, and when we told the crowd, both of men and women
who were pressing about us, the risk they ran, they all exclaimed, "We
prefer the plague to the Austrians!"

What were our feelings when we again set foot on the soil of France
I will not attempt to describe. Our escape from the dangers that
threatened us seemed almost miraculous. We had lost twenty days at the
beginning of our voyage, and at its close the had been almost taken by an
English squadron. Under these circumstances, how rapturously we inhaled
the balmy, air of Provence! Such was our joy, that we were scarcely
sensible of the disheartening news which arrived from all quarters. At
the first moment of our arrival, by a spontaneous impulse, we all
repeated, with tears in our eyes, the beautiful lines which Voltaire has
put into the mouth of the exile of Sicily.

Bonaparte has been reproached with having violated the sanitary laws;
but, after what I have already stated respecting his intentions, I
presume there can remain no doubt of the falsehood of this accusation.
All the blame must rest with the inhabitants of Frejus, who on this
occasion found the law of necessity more imperious than the sanitary
laws. Yet when it is considered that four or five hundred persons, and a
quantity of effects, were landed from Alexandria, where the plague had
been raging during the summer, it is almost a miracle that France, and
indeed Europe escaped the scourge.



Effect produced by Bonaparte's return--His justification--

Melancholy letter to my wife--Bonaparte's intended dinner at Sens--
Louis Bonaparte and Josephine--He changes his intended route--
Melancholy situation of the provinces--Necessity of a change--
Bonaparte's ambitious views--Influence of popular applause--
Arrival in Paris--His reception of Josephine--Their reconciliation--
Bonaparte's visit to the Directory--His contemptuous treatment of

Tim effect produced in France and throughout Europe by the mere

intelligence of Bonaparte's return is well known. I shall not yet speak
of the vast train of consequences which that event entailed. I must,
however, notice some accusations which were brought against him from the
time of our landing to the 9th of November. He was reproached for having
left Egypt, and it was alleged that his departure was the result of long
premeditation. But I, who was constantly with him, am enabled positively
to affirm that his return to France was merely the effect of a sudden
resolution. Of this the following fact is in itself sufficient evidence.

While we were at Cairo, a few days before we heard of the landing of the
Anglo-Turkish fleet, and at the moment when we were on the point of
setting off to encamp at the Pyramids, Bonaparte despatched a courier to
France. I took advantage of this opportunity to write to my wife. I
almost bade her an eternal adieu: My letter breathed expressions of grief
such as I had not before evinced. I said, among other things, that we.
knew not when or how it would be possible for us to return to France. If
Bonaparte had then entertained any thought of a speedy return I must have
known it, and in that case I should not certainly have distressed my
family by a desponding letter, when I had not had an opportunity of
writing for seven months before.

Two days after the receipt of my letter my wife was awoke very early in
the morning to be informed of our arrival in France. The courier who
brought this intelligence was the bearer of a second letter from me,
which I had written on board ship, and dated from Frejus. In this letter
I mentioned that Bonaparte would pass through Seas and dine with my

In fulfilment of my directions Madame de Bourrienne set off for Paris at

five in the morning. Having passed the first post-house she met a Berlin
containing four travellers, among whom she recognised Louis Bonaparte
going to meet the General on the Lyons road. On seeing Madame de
Bourrienne Louis desired the postillion to stop, and asked her whether
she had heard from me. She informed him that we should pass through
Sens, where the General wished to dine with my mother, who had made every
preparation for receiving him. Louis then continued his journey. About
nine o'clock my wife met another Berlin, in which were Madame Bonaparte
and her daughter. As they were asleep, and both carriages were driving
at a very rapid rate, Madame de Bourrienne did not stop them. Josephine
followed the route taken by Louis. Both missed the General, who changed
his mind at Lyons, and proceeded by way of Bourbonnais. He arrived
fifteen hours after my wife; and those who had taken the Burgundy road
proceeded to Lyons uselessly.

Determined to repair in all haste to Paris, Bonaparte had left Frejus on

the afternoon of the day of our landing. He himself had despatched the
courier to Sens to inform my mother of his intended visit to her; and it
was not until he got to Lyons that he determined to take the Bourbonnais
road. His reason for doing so will presently be seen. All along the
road, at Aix, at Lyons, in every town and village, he was received, as at
Frejus, with the most rapturous demonstrations of joy.

--[From Frejus to, Aix a crowd of men kindly escorted us, carrying
torches alongside the carriage of the General, not so much to show
their enthusiasm as to ensure our safety (Bourrienne) These brigands
became so bad in France that at one time soldiers were placed in the
imperials of all the diligences, receiving from the wits the
curiously anticipative name of "imperial armies".]--

Only those who witnessed his triumphal journey can form any notion of it;
and it required no great discernment to foresee something like the 18th

The provinces, a prey to anarchy and civil war, were continually

threatened with foreign invasion. Almost all the south presented the
melancholy spectacle of one-vast arena of conflicting factions. The
nation groaned beneath the yoke of tyrannical laws; despotism was
systematically established; the law of hostages struck a blow at personal
liberty, and forced loans menaced every man's property. The generality
of the citizens had declared themselves against a pentarchy devoid of
power, justice, and morality, and which had become the sport of faction
and intrigue. Disorder was general; but in the provinces abuses were
felt more sensibly than elsewhere. In great cities it was found more
easy to elude the hand of despotism and oppression.

A change so earnestly wished for could not fail to be realised, and to be

received with transport. The majority of the French people longed to be
relieved from the situation in which they then stood. There were two
dangers bar to cope with--anarchy and the Bourbons. Every one felt the
urgent and indispensable necessity of concentrating the power of the
Government in a single hand; at the same time maintaining the
institutions which the spirit of the age demanded, and which France,
after having so dearly purchased, was now about to lose. The country
looked for a man who was capable of restoring her to tranquillity; but as
yet no such man had appeared. A soldier of fortune presented himself,
covered with glory; he had planted the standard of France on the Capitol
and on the Pyramids. The whole world acknowledged his superior talent;
his character, his courage, and his victories had raised him to the very
highest rank. His great works, his gallant actions, his speeches, and
his proclamations ever since he had risen to eminence left no doubt of
his wish to secure happiness and freedom to France, his adopted country.
At that critical moment the necessity of a temporary dictatorship, which
sometimes secures the safety of a state, banished all reflections on the
consequences of such a power, and nobody seemed to think glory
incompatible with personal liberty. All eyes were therefore directed on
the General, whose past conduct guaranteed his capability of defending
the Republic abroad, and liberty at home,--on the General whom his
flatterers, and indeed some of his sincere friends, styled, "the hero of
liberal ideas," the title to which he aspired.

Under, every point of view, therefore, he was naturally chosen as the

chief of a generous nation, confiding to him her destiny, in preference
to a troop of mean and fanatical hypocrites, who, under the names of
republicanism and liberty, had reduced France to the most abject slavery.

Among the schemes which Bonaparte was incessantly revolving in his mind
may undoubtedly be ranked the project of attaining the head of the French
Government; but it would be a mistake to suppose that on his return from
Egypt he had formed any fixed plan. There was something vague in his
ambitious aspirations; and he was, if I may so express myself, fond of
building those imaginary edifices called castles in the air. The current
of events was in accordance with his wishes; and it may truly be said
that the whole French nation smoothed for Bonaparte the road which led.
to power. Certainly the unanimous plaudits and universal joy which
accompanied him along a journey of more than 200 leagues must have
induced him to regard as a national mission that step which was at first
prompted merely by his wish of meddling with the affairs of the Republic.

This spontaneous burst of popular feeling, unordered and unpaid for,

loudly proclaimed the grievances of the people, and their hope that the
man of victory would become their deliverer. The general enthusiasm
excited by the return of the conqueror of Egypt delighted him to a degree
which I cannot express, and was, as he has often assured me, a powerful
stimulus in urging him to the object to which the wishes of France seemed
to direct him.

Among people of all classes and opinions an 18th Brumaire was desired and
expected. Many royalists even believed that a change would prove
favourable to the King. So ready are we to persuade ourselves of the
reality of what we wish.

As soon as it was suspected that Bonaparte would accept the power offered
him, an outcry was raised about a conspiracy against the Republic, and
measures were sought for preserving it. But necessity, and indeed, it
must be confessed, the general feeling of the people, consigned the
execution of those measures to him who was to subvert the Republic. On
his return to Paris Bonaparte spoke and acted like a man who felt his own
power; he cared neither for flattery, dinners, nor balls,--his mind took
a higher flight.

We arrived in Paris on the 24th Vendemiaire (the 16th of October).

As yet he knew nothing of what was going on; for he had seen neither his
wife nor his brothers, who were looking for him on the Burgundy road.
The news of our landing at Frejus had reached Paris by a telegraphic
despatch. Madame Bonaparte, who was dining with M. Gohier when that
despatch was communicated to him, as president of the Directory,
immediately set off to meet her husband, well knowing how important it
was that her first interview with him should not be anticipated by his

The imprudent communications of Junot at the fountains of Messoudiah will

be remembered, but, after the first ebullition of jealous rage, all
traces of that feeling had apparently disappeared. Bonaparte however,
was still harassed by secret suspicion, and the painful impressions
produced by Junot were either not entirely effaced or were revived after
our arrival in Paris. We reached the capital before Josephine returned.
The recollection of the past; the ill-natured reports of his brothers,

--[Joseph Bonaparte remarks on this that Napoleon met Josephine at

Paris before his brothers arrived there, (Compare d'Abrantis,
vol. 1, pp. 260-262 and Rumusat, tome i. pp. 147-148.)]--

and the exaggeration of facts had irritated Napoleon to the very highest
pitch, and he received Josephine with studied coldness, and with an air
of the most cruel indifference. He had no communication with her for
three days, during which time he frequently spoke to me of suspicions
which his imagination converted into certainty; and threats of divorce
escaped his lips with no less vehemence than when we were on the confines
of Syria. I took upon me the office of conciliator, which I had before
discharged with success. I represented to him the dangers to be
apprehended from the publicity and scandal of such an affair; and that
the moment when his grand views might possibly be realized was not the
fit time to entertain France and Europe with the details of a charge of
adultery. I spoke to him of Hortense and Eugene, to whom he was much
attached. Reflection, seconded by his ardent affection for Josephine,
brought about a complete reconciliation. After these three days of
conjugal misunderstanding their happiness was never afterwards disturbed
by a similar cause.

--[In speaking of the unexpected arrival of Bonaparte and of the

meeting between him and Josephine, Madame Junot says: "On the 10th
October Josephine set off to meet her husband, but without knowing
exactly what road he would take. She thought it likely he would
come by way of Burgundy, and therefore Louis and she set off for

"Madame Bonaparte was a prey to great and well-founded aspersions.

Whether she was guilty or only imprudent, she was strongly accused
by the Bonaparte family, who were desirous that Napoleon should
obtain a divorce, The elder M. de Caulaincourt stated to us his
apprehensions on this point; but whenever the subject was introduced
my mother changed the conversation, because, knowing as she did the
sentiments of the Bonaparte family, she could not reply without
either committing them or having recourse to falsehood. She knew,
moreover, the truth of many circumstances which M. de Caulaincourt
seemed to doubt, and which her situation with respect to Bonaparte
prevented her from communicating to him.

"Madame Bonaparte committed a great fault in neglecting at this

juncture to conciliate her mother-in-law, who might have protected
her again those who sought her ruin and effected it nine years
later; for the divorce in 1809 was brought about by the joint
efforts of all the members of the Bonaparte family, aided by some of
Napoleon's most confidential servants, whom Josephine, either as
Madame Bonaparte or as Empress, had done nothing to make her

"Bonaparte, on his arrival in Paris, found his house deserted: but

his mother, sisters, and sisters-in-law, and, in short, every member
of his family, except Louis, who had attended Madame Bonaparte to
Lyons, came to him immediately. The impression made upon him by the
solitude of his home and its desertion by its mistress was profound
and terrible, and nine years afterwards, when the ties between him
and Josephine were severed for ever, he showed that it was not
effaced. From not finding her with his family he inferred that she
felt herself unworthy of their presence, and feared to meet the man
she had wronged. He considered her journey to Lyons as a mere

"M. de Bourrienne says that for some days after Josephine's return
Bonaparte treated her with extreme coldness. As he was an
eyewitness, why does he not state the whole truth, and say that on
her return Bonaparte refused to see her and did not see her? It was
to the earnest entreaties of her children that she owed the
recovery, not of her husband's love, for that had long ceased, but
of that tenderness acquired by habit, and that intimate intercourse
which made her still retain the rank of consort to the greatest man
of his age. Bonaparte was at this period much attached to Eugene
Beauharnais, who, to do him justice, was a charming youth. He knew
less of Hortense; but her youth and sweetness of temper, and the
protection of which, as his adopted daughter, she besought him not
to deprive her, proved powerful advocates, and overcame his

"In this delicate negotiation it was good policy not to bring any
other person into play, whatever might be their influence with
Bonaparte, and Madame Bonaparte did not, therefore, have recourse
either to Barras, Bourrienne, or Berthier. It was expedient that
they who interceded for her should be able to say something without
the possibility of a reply. Now Bonaparte could not with any degree
of propriety explain to such children as Eugene or Hortense the
particulars of their mother's conduct. He was therefore constrained
to silence, and had no argument to combat the tears of two innocent
creatures at his feet exclaiming, 'Do not abandon our mother; she
will break her heart! and ought injustice to take from us, poor
orphans, whose natural protector the scaffold has already deprived
us of, the support of one whom Providence has sent to replace him!'

"The scene, as Bonaparte has since stated, was long and painful, and
the two children at length introduced their mother, and placed her
in his arms. The unhappy woman had awaited his decision at the door
of a small back staircase, extended at almost full length upon the
stairs, suffering the acutest pangs of mental torture.

"Whatever might be his wife's errors, Bonaparte appeared entirely to

forget them, and the reconciliation was complete. Of all the
members of the family Madame Leclerc was most vexed at the pardon
which Napoleon had granted to his wife. Bonaparte's mother was also
very ill pleased; but she said nothing. Madame Joseph Bonaparte,
who was always very amiable, took no part in these family quarrels;
therefore she could easily determine what part to take when fortune
smiled on Josephine. As to Madame Bacciocchi, she gave free vent to
her ill-humour and disdain; the consequence was that her sister-in-
law could never endure her. Christine who was a beautiful creature,
followed the example of Madame Joseph, and Caroline was so young
that her opinion could have no weight in such an affair. As to
Bonaparte's brothers, they were at open war with Josephine."]--

On the day after hid arrival Bonaparte visited the Directors.

--[The Directors at this time were Barras, Sieyes, Moulins, Gohier,

and Roger Ducos.]--

The interview was cold. On the 24th of October he said to me, "I dined
yesterday at Gohier's; Sieyes was present, and I pretended not to see
him. I observed how much he was enraged at this mark of disrespect."--
"But are you sure he is against you?" inquired I. "I know nothing yet;
but he is a scheming man, and I don't like him." Even at that time
Bonaparte had thoughts of getting himself elected a member of the
Directory in the room of Sieyes.



Moreau and Bernadotte--Bonaparte's opinion of Bernadotte--False

report--The crown of Sweden and the Constitution of the year III.--
Intrigues of Bonaparte's brothers--Angry conversation between
Bonaparte and Bernadotte--Bonaparte's version--Josephine's version--
An unexpected visit--The Manege Club--Salicetti and Joseph Bonaparte
--Bonaparte invites himself to breakfast with Bernadotte--Country
excursion--Bernadotte dines with Bonaparte--The plot and conspiracy
--Conduct of Lucien--Dinner given to Bonaparte by the Council of the
Five Hundred--Bonaparte's wish to be chosen a member of the
Directory--His reconciliation with Sieyes--Offer made by the
Directory to Bonaparte--He is falsely accused by Barras.

To throw a clear light on the course of the great events which will
presently be developed it is necessary to state briefly what intrigues
had been hatched and what ambitious hopes had risen up while we were in
Egypt. When in Egypt Bonaparte was entirely deprived of any means of
knowing what was going on in France; and in our rapid journey from Frejus
to Paris we had no opportunity of collecting much information. Yet it
was very important that we should know the real state of affairs, and the
sentiments of those whom Bonaparte had counted among his rivals in glory,
and whom he might now meet among his rivals in ambition.

Moreau's military reputation stood very high, and Bernadotte's firmness

appeared inflexible. Generally speaking, Bonaparte might have reckoned
among his devoted partisans the companions of his glory in Italy, and
also those whom he subsequently denominated "his Egyptians." But brave
men had distinguished themselves in the army of the Rhine; and if they
did not withhold their admiration from the conqueror of Italy, they felt
at least more personally interested in the admiration which they lavished
on him who had repaired the disaster of Scherer. Besides, it must be
borne in mind that a republican spirit prevailed, almost without
exception, in the army, and that the Directory appeared to be a
Government invented expressly to afford patronage to intriguers. All
this planted difficulties in our way, and rendered it indispensably
necessary that we should know our ground. We had, it is true, been
greeted by the fullest measure of popular enthusiasm on our arrival; but
this was not enough. We wanted suffrages of a more solid kind.

During the campaign of Egypt, Bernadotte, who was a zealous republican,

had been War Minister,

--[Bernadotte was Minister of war from 2d July 1799 to 14th

September 1799, when, as he himself wrote to the Directory, they
"accepted" the resignation he had not offered.]--

but be had resigned the portfolio to Dubois-Crance three weeks before

Bonaparte's return to France. Some partisans of the old Minister were
endeavouring to get him recalled, and it was very important to
Bonaparte's interests that he should prevent the success of this design.
I recollect that on the second day of our arrival Bonaparte said to me,
"I have learned many things; but we shall see what will happen.
Bernadotte is a singular man. When he was War Minister Augereau,
Salicetti, and some others informed him that the Constitution was in
danger, and that it was necessary to get rid of Sieyes, Barras, and
Fouche, who were at the head of a plot. What did Bernadotte do?
Nothing. He asked for proofs. None could be produced. He asked for
powers. Who could grant them? Nobody. He should have taken them; but
he would not venture on that. He wavered. He said be could not enter
into the schemes which were proposed to him. He only promised to be
silent on condition that they were renounced. Bernadotte is not a help;
he is an obstacle, I have heard from good authority that a great number
of influential persons wished to invest him with extensive power for the
public good; but he was obstinate, and would listen to nothing."

After a brief interval of silence, during which Bonaparte rubbed his

forehead with his right hand, he then resumed:

"I believe I shall have Bernadotte and Moreau against me. But I do not
fear Moreau. He is devoid of energy. I know he would prefer military to
political power. The promise of the command of an army would gain him
over. But Bernadotte has Moorish blood in his veins. He is bold and
enterprising. He is allied to my brothers.

--[Joseph Bonaparte and Bernadotte had married sisters. Mario-Julie

and Eugenie Bernardine-Desiree Clary. The feeling of Bourrienne for
Bernadotte makes this passage doubtful. It is to be noticed that in
the same conversation he makes Napoleon describe Bernadotte as not
venturing to act without powers and as enterprising. The stern
republican becoming Prince de Monte Carlo and King of Sweden, in a
way compatible with his fidelity to the Constitution of the year
III., is good. Lanfrey attributes Bernadotte's refusal to join more
to rivalry than to principle (Lanfrey, tome i. p. 440). But in any
case Napoleon did not dread Bernadotte, and was soon threatening to
shoot him; see Lucien, tome ii. p. 107.]--
"He does not like me, and I am almost certain that be will oppose me. If
he should become ambitious he will venture anything. And yet, you
recollect in what a lukewarm way he acted on the 18th Fructidor, when I
sent him to second Augereau. This devil of a fellow is not to be
seduced. He is disinterested and clever. But; after all, we have but
just arrived, and know not what may happen."

Bernadotte, it was reported, had advised that Bonaparte should be brought

to a court-martial, an the two-fold charge of having abandoned his army
and violated the quarantine laws. This report came to the ear of
Bonaparte; but he refused to believe it and he was right. Bernadotte
thought himself bound to the Constitution which he had sworn to defend.
Hence the opposition he manifested to the measures of the 18th Brumaire.
But he cherished no personal animosity against Bonaparte as long as he
was ignorant of his ambitious designs. The extraordinary and complicated
nature of subsequent events rendered his possession of the crown of
Sweden in no way incompatible with his fidelity to the Constitution of
the year III.

On our first arrival in Paris, though I was almost constantly with the
General, yet, as our routine of occupation was not yet settled, I was
enabled now and then to snatch an hour or two from business. This
leisure time I spent in the society of my family and a few friends, and
in collecting information as to what had happened during our absence, for
which purpose I consulted old newspapers and pamphlets. I was not
surprised to learn that Bonaparte's brothers--that is to say, Joseph and
Lucien--had been engaged in many intrigues. I was told that Sieyes had
for a moment thought of calling the Duke of Brunswick to the head of the
Government; that Barras would not have been very averse to favouring the
return of the Bourbons; and that Moulins, Roger Ducos, and Gohier alone
believed or affected to believe, in the possibility of preserving the
existing form of government. From what I heard at the time I have good
reasons for believing that Joseph and Lucien made all sorts of endeavours
to inveigle Bernadotte into their brother's party, and in the hope of
accomplishing that object they had assisted in getting him appointed War
Minister. However, I cannot vouch for the truth of this. I was told
that Bernadotte had at first submitted to the influence of Bonaparte's
two brothers; but that their urgent interference in their client's behalf
induced him to shake them off, to proceed freely in the exercise of his
duties, and to open the eyes of the Directory on what the Republic might
have to apprehend from the enterprising character of Bonaparte. It is
certain that what I have to relate respecting the conduct of Bernadotte
to Bonaparte is calculated to give credit to these assertions.

All the generals who were in Paris, with the exception of Bernadotte,
had visited Bonaparte during the first three days which succeeded his
arrival. Bernadotte's absence was the more remarkable because he had
served under Bonaparte in Italy. It was not until a fortnight had
elapsed, and then only on the reiterated entreaties of Joseph and Madame
Joseph Bonaparte (his sister-in-law), that he determined to go and see
his old General-in-Chief. I was not present at their interview, being at
that moment occupied in the little cabinet of the Rue Chantereine. But I
soon discovered that their conversation had been long and warm; for as
soon as it was ended Bonaparte entered the cabinet exceedingly agitated,
and said to me, "Bourrienne, how do you think Bernadotte has behaved?
You have traversed France with me--you witnessed the enthusiasm which my
return excited--you yourself told me that you saw in that enthusiasm the
desire of the French people to be relieved from the disastrous position
in which our reverses have placed them. Well! would you believe it?
Bernadotte boasts, with ridiculous exaggeration, of the brilliant and
victorious situation of France! He talks about the defeat of the
Russians, the occupation of Genoa, the innumerable armies that are rising
up everywhere. In short, I know not what nonsense he has got in his
head."--"What can all this mean?" said I. "Did he speak about Egypt?"--
"Oh, yes! Now you remind me. He actually reproached me for not having
brought the army back with me! 'But,' observed I, 'have you not just
told me that you are absolutely overrun with troops; that all your
frontiers are secure, that immense levies are going on, and that you will
have 200,000 infantry?--If this be true, what do you want with a few
thousand men who may ensure the preservation of Egypt?' He could make no
answer to this. But he is quite elated by the honour of having been War
Minister, and he told me boldly that he looked upon the army of Egypt as
lost nay, more. He made insinuations. He spoke of enemies abroad and
enemies at home; and as he uttered these last words he looked
significantly at me. I too gave him a glance! But stay a little.
The pear will soon be ripe! You know Josephine's grace and address. She
was present. The scrutinising glance of Bernadotte did not escape her,
and she adroitly turned the conversation. Bernadotte saw from my
countenance that I had had enough of it, and he took his leave. But
don't let me interrupt you farther. I am going back to speak to

I must confess that this strange story made me very impatient to find
myself alone with Madame Bonaparte, for I wished to hear her account of
the scene. An opportunity occurred that very evening. I repeated to her
what I had heard from the General, and all that she told me tended to
confirm its accuracy. She added that Bernadotte seemed to take the
utmost pains to exhibit to the General a flattering picture of the
prosperity of France; and she reported to me, as follows, that part of
the conversation which was peculiarly calculated to irritate Bonaparte:--
"'I do not despair of the safety of the Republic, which I am certain can
restrain her enemies both abroad and at home.' As Bernadotte uttered
these last words,'" continued Josephine, "his glance made me shudder.
One word more and Bonaparte could have commanded himself no longer! It
is true," added she, "that it was in some degree his own fault, for it
was he who turned the conversation on politics; and Bernadotte, in
describing the flourishing condition of France, was only replying to the
General, who had drawn a very opposite picture of the state of things.
You know, my dear Bourrienne, that Bonaparte is not always very prudent.
I fear he has said too much to Bernadotte about the necessity of changes
in the Government." Josephine had not yet recovered from the agitation
into which this violent scene had thrown her. After I took leave of her;
I made notes of what she had told me.

A few days after, when Bonaparte, Josephine, Hortense, Eugene, and I were
together in the drawing-room, Bernadotte unexpectedly entered. His
appearance, after what had passed, was calculated to surprise us. He was
accompanied by a person whom he requested permission to introduce to
Bonaparte. I have forgotten his name, but he was, I think, secretary-
general while Bernadotte was in office. Bonaparte betrayed no appearance
of astonishment. He received Bernadotte with perfect ease, and they soon
entered into conversation. Bonaparte, who seemed to acquire confidence
from the presence of those who were about him, said a great deal about
the agitation which prevailed among the republicans, and expressed
himself in very decided terms against the Manege Club.'

--[The Manege Club, the last resort of the Jacobins, formed in 1799,
and closed seven or eight months afterwards. Joseph Bonaparte
(Erreurs, time i. p. 251) denies that he or Lucien--for whom the
allusion is meant--were members of this club, and he disputes this
conversation ever having taken place. Lucien (tome i. p. 219)
treats this club as opposed to his party.]--

I seconded him by observing that M. Moreau de Worms of my department, who

was a member of that club, had himself complained to me of the violence
that prevailed in it. "But, General," said Bernadotte, "your brothers
were its most active originators. Yet," added he in a tone of firmness,
"you accuse me of having favoured that club, and I repel the charge. It
cannot be otherwise than false. When I came into office I found
everything in the greatest disorder. I had no leisure to think about any
club to which my duties did not call me. You know well that your friend
Salicetti, and that your brother, who is in your confidence, are both
leading men in the Manege Club. To the instructions of I know not whom
is to be attributed the violence of which you complain." At these words,
and especially the tone in which Bernadotte uttered 'I know not whom,'
Bonaparte could no longer restrain himself. "Well, General," exclaimed
he furiously, "I tell you plainly, I would rather live wild in the woods
than in a state of society which affords no security." Bernadotte then
said, with great dignity of manner, "Good God! General, what security
would you have?" From the warmth evinced by Bonaparte I saw plainly that
the conversation would soon be converted into a dispute, and in a whisper
I requested Madame Bonaparte to change the conversation, which she
immediately did by addressing a question to some one present.
Bernadotte, observing Madame Bonaparte's design, checked his warmth. The
subject of conversation was changed, and it became general Bernadotte
soon took up his hat and departed.

One morning, when I entered Bonaparte's chamber--it was, I believe, three

or four days after the second visit of Bernadotte--he said:

"Well, Bourrienne, I wager you will not guess with whom I am going to
breakfast this morning?"--"Really, General, I ------"--"With Bernadotte;
and the best of the joke is, that I have invited myself. You would have
seen how it was all brought about if you had been with us at the Theatre
Francais, yesterday evening. You know we are going to visit Joseph today
at Mortfontaine. Well, as we were coming out of the theatre last night,
finding myself side by aide with Bernadotte and not knowing what to talk
about, I asked him whether he was to be of our party to-day? He replied
in the affirmative; and as we were passing his house in the Rue

--[Joseph Bonaparte lays great stress on the fact that Napoleon

world not have passed this house, which was far from the theatre
(Erreurs, tome i, p. 251).]--

"I told him, without any ceremony, that I should be happy to come and take
a cup of coffee with him in the morning. He seemed pleased. What do you
think of that, Bourrienne?"--"Why, General, I hope you may have reason on
your part to be pleased with him."--" Never fear, never fear. I know
what I am about. This will compromise him with Gohier. Remember, you
must always meet your enemies with a bold face, otherwise they think they
are feared, and that gives them confidence."

Bonaparte stepped into the carriage with Josephine, who was always ready
when she had to go out with him, for he did not like to wait. They
proceeded first to Bernadotte's to breakfast, and from thence to
Mortfontaine. On his return Bonaparte told me very little about what had
passed during the day, and I could see that he was not in the best of
humours. I afterwards learned that Bonaparte had conversed a good deal
with Bernadotte, and that he had made every effort to render himself
agreeable, which he very well knew how to do when he chose! but that, in
spite of all his conversational talent; and supported as he was by the
presence of his three brothers, and Regnault de St. Jean d'Angely, he
could not withstand the republican firmness of Bernadotte. However, the
number of his partisans daily augmented; for all had not the
uncompromising spirit of Bernadotte; and it will soon be seen that Moreau
himself undertook charge of the Directors who were made prisoners on the
18th Brumaire.

Bernadotte's shrewd penetration made him one of the first to see clearly
into Bonaparte's designs. He was well convinced of his determination to
overthrow the constitution and possess himself of power. He saw the
Directory divided into two parties; the one duped by the promises and
assurances of Bonaparte, and the other conniving with him for the
accomplishment of his plans. In these circumstances Bernadotte offered
his services to all persons connected with the Government who, like
himself, were averse to the change which he saw good reason to apprehend.
But Bonaparte was not the man to be outdone in cunning or activity; and
every moment swelled the ranks of his adherents.

On the 16th Brumaire I dined in the Rue de la Victoire. Bernadotte was

present, and I believe General Jourdan also. While the grand conspiracy
was hastening to its accomplishment Madame Bonaparte and I had contrived
a little plot of a more innocent kind. We let no one into our secret,
and our 16th Brumaire was crowned with complete success. We had agreed
to be on the alert to prevent any fresh exchange of angry words. All
succeeded to the utmost of our wishes. The conversation languished
during dinner; but it was not dulness that we were afraid of. It turned
on the subject of war, and in that vast field Bonaparte's superiority
over his interlocutors was undeniable.

When we retired to the drawing-rooms a great number of evening visitors

poured in, and the conversation then became animated, and even gay.
Bonaparte was in high spirits. He said to some one, smiling, and
pointing to Bernadotte, "You are not aware that the General yonder is a
Chouan."--"A Chouan?" repeated Bernadotte, also in a tone of pleasantry.
"Ah! General you contradict yourself. Only the other day you taxed me
with favouring the violence of the friends of the Republic, and now you
accuse me of protecting the Chouans.

--[The "Chouans," so called from their use of the cry of the

screech-owl (chathouan) as a signal, were the revolted peasants of
Brittany and of Maine.]--

"You should at least be consistent." A few moments after, availing

himself of the confusion occasioned by the throng of visitors, Bernadotte
slipped off.

As a mark of respect to Bonaparte the Council of the Five Hundred

appointed Lucien its president. The event proved how important this
nomination was to Napoleon. Up to the 19th Brumaire, and especially on
that day, Lucien evinced a degree of activity, intelligence, courage, and
presence of mind which are rarely found united in one individual I have
no hesitation in stating that to Lucien's nomination and exertions must
be attributed the success of the 19th Brumaire.
The General had laid down a plan of conduct from which he never deviated
during the twenty-three days which intervened between his arrival in
Paris and the 18th Brumaire. He refused almost all private invitations,
in order to avoid indiscreet questions, unacceptable offers, and answers
which might compromise him.

It was not without some degree of hesitation that he yielded to a project

started by Lucien, who, by all sorts of manoeuvring, had succeeded in
prevailing on a great number of his colleagues to be present at a grand
subscription dinner to be given to Bonaparte by the Council of the

The disorder which unavoidably prevailed in a party amounting to upwards

of 250 persons, animated by a diversity of opinions and sentiments; the
anxiety and distrust arising in the minds of those who were not in the
grand plot, rendered this meeting one of the most disagreeable I ever
witnessed. It was all restraint and dulness. Bonaparte's countenance
sufficiently betrayed his dissatisfaction; besides, the success of his
schemes demanded his presence elsewhere. Almost as soon as he had
finished his dinner he rose, saying to Berthier and me, "I am tired: let
us be, gone." He went round to the different tables, addressing to the
company compliments and trifling remarks, and departed, leaving at table
the persons by whom he had been invited.

This short political crisis was marked by nothing more grand, dignified,
or noble than the previous revolutionary commotions. All these plots
were so contemptible, and were accompanied by so much trickery,
falsehood, and treachery, that, for the honour of human nature, it is
desirable to cover them with a veil.

General Bonaparte's thoughts were first occupied with the idea he had
conceived even when in Italy, namely, to be chosen a Director. Nobody
dared yet to accuse him of being a deserter from the army of the East.
The only difficulty was to obtain a dispensation on the score of age.
And was this not to be obtained? No sooner was he installed in his
humble abode in the Rue de la Victoire than he was assured that, on the
retirement of Rewbell, the majority of suffrages would have devolved on
him had he been in France, and had not the fundamental law required the
age of forty; but that not even his warmest partisans were disposed to
violate the yet infant Constitution of the year III.

Bonaparte soon perceived that no efforts would succeed in overcoming this

difficulty, and he easily resolved to possess himself wholly of an office
of which he would nominally have had only a fifth part had he been a
member of the Directory.

As soon as his intentions became manifest he found himself surrounded by

all those who recognised in him the man they had long looked for. These
persons, who were able and influential in their own circles, endeavoured
to convert into friendship the animosity which existed between Sieyes and
Bonaparte. This angry feeling had been increased by a remark made by
Sieyes, and reported to Bonaparte. He had said, after the dinner at
which Bonaparte treated him so disrespectfully, "Do you see how that
little insolent fellow behaves to a member of a Government which would do
well to order him to be SHOT?"

But all was changed when able mediators pointed out to Bonaparte the
advantage of uniting with Sieye's for the purpose of overthrowing a
Constitution which he did not like. He was assured how vain it would be
to think of superseding him, and that it would be better to flatter him
with the hope of helping to subvert the constitution and raising up a new
one. One day some one said to Bonaparte in my hearing, "Seek for support
among the party who call the friends of the Republic Jacobins, and be
assured that Sieyes is at the head of that party."

On the 25th Vendemiaire (17th of October) the Directory summoned General

Bonaparte to a private sitting. "They offered me the choice of any army
I would command," said he to me the next morning. "I would not refuse,
but I asked to be allowed a little time for the recovery of my health;
and, to avoid any other embarrassing offers, I withdrew. I shall go to
no more of their sittings." (He attended only one after this.) "I am
determined to join Sieyes' party. It includes a greater diversity of
opinions than that of the profligate Barras. He proclaims everywhere
that he is the author of my fortune. He will never be content to play an
inferior part, and I will never bend to such a man. He cherishes the mad
ambition of being the support of the Republic. What would he. do with
me? Sieyes, on the contrary, has no political ambition."

No sooner did Sieyes begin to grow friendly with Bonaparte than the
latter learned from him that Barras had said, "The 'little corporal' has
made his fortune in Italy and does not want to go back again." Bonaparte
repaired to the Directory for the sole purpose of contradicting this
allegation. He complained to the Directors of its falsehood, boldly
affirmed that the fortune he was supposed to possess had no existence,
and that even if he had made his fortune it was not, at all events, at
the expense of the Republic "You know," said he to me, "that the mines of
Hydria have furnished the greater part of what I possess."--"Is it
possible," said I, "that Barras could have said so, when you know so well
of all the peculations of which he has been guilty since your return?"

Bonaparte had confided the secret of his plans to very few persons--to
those only whose assistance he wanted. The rest mechanically followed
their leaders and the impulse which was given to them; they passively
awaited the realisation of the promises they had received, and on the
faith of which they had pledged themselves.



Cambaceres and Lebrun--Gohier deceived--My nocturnal visit to Barras

--The command of the army given to Bonaparte--The morning of the
18th Brumaire--Meeting of the generals at Bonaparte's house--
Bernadotte's firmness--Josephine's interest, for Madame Gohier--
Disappointment of the Directors--Review in the gardens of the
Tuileries--Bonaparte's harangue--Proclamation of the Ancients--
Moreau, jailer of the Luxembourg--My conversation with La Pallette--
Bonaparte at St. Cloud.

The parts of the great drama which was shortly to be enacted were well
distributed. During the three days preceding the 18th Brumaire every one
was at his post. Lucien, with equal activity and intelligence, forwarded
the conspiracy in the two Councils; Sieyes had the management of the
Directory; Real,
--[Pierre Francois Real (1757-1834); public accuser before the
revolutionary criminal tribunal; became, under Napoleon, Conseiller
d'Etat and Comte, and was charged with the affairs of the "haute

under the instructions of Fouche,

--[Joseph Fouche (1754-1820); Conventionalist; member of extreme

Jacobin party; Minister of Police under the Directory, August 1799;
retained by Napoleon in that Ministry till 1802, and again from 1801
to 1810; became Duc d'Otrante in 1809; disgraced m 1810, and sent in
1813 as governor of the Illyrian Provinces; Minister of Police
during the 'Cent Jours'; President of the Provisional Government,
1815; and for a short time Minister of Police under second

negotiated with the departments, and dexterously managed, without

compromising Fouche, to ruin those from whom that Minister had received
his power. There was no time to lose; and Fouche said to me on the 14th
Brumaire, "Tell your General to be speedy; if he delays, he is lost."

On the 17th, Regnault de St. Jean d'Angely told Bonaparte that the
overtures made to Cambaceres and Lebrun had not been received in a very
decided way. "I will have no tergiversation," replied Bonaparte with
warmth. "Let them not flatter themselves that I stand in need of them.
They must decide to-day; to-morrow will be too late. I feel myself
strong enough now to stand alone."


--[Cambaceres (J. J. Regis de) (1763-1824) Conventionalist; Minister

of Justice under Directory, 1799; second Consul, 25th December 1799;
Arch-Chancellor of the Empire, 1804; Duc de Parma, 1806; Minister of
Justice during the 'Cent Jours': took great part in all the legal
and administrative projects of the Consulate and Empire.]--

and Lebrun

--[Charles Francois Lebrun (1757-1824). Deputy to the National

Assembly, and member of the Council of the Five Hundred; Third
Consul, 25th December 1799; Arch-Treasurer of the Empire, 1804; Duc
de Plaisance, 1806; Governor-General of Holland, 1806; Lieutenant-
Governor of Holland, 1810 to 1813; chiefly engaged in financial

were, almost utter strangers to the intrigues which preceded the 18th
Brumaire. Bonaparte had cast his eyes on the Minister of Justice to be
one of his colleagues when he should be at liberty to name them, because
his previous conduct had pledged him as a partisan of the Revolution.
To him Bonaparte added Lebrun, to counterbalance the first choice.
Lebrun was distinguished for honourable conduct and moderate principles.
By selecting these two men Bonaparte hoped to please every one; besides,
neither of them were able to contend against his fixed determination and
ambitious views.

What petty intrigues marked the 17th Brumaire! On that day I dined with
Bonaparte; and after dinner he said, "I have promised to dine to-morrow
with Gohier; but, as you may readily suppose, I do not intend going.
However, I am very sorry for his obstinacy. By way of restoring his
confidence Josephine is going to invite him to breakfast with us to-
morrow. It will be impossible for him to suspect anything. I saw Barras
this morning, and left him much disturbed. He asked me to return and
visit him to-night. I promised to do so, but I shall not go. To-morrow
all will be over. There is but little time; he expects me at eleven
o'clock to-night. You shall therefore take my carriage, go there, send
in my name, and then enter yourself. Tell him that a severe headache
confines me to my bed, but that I will be with him without fail tomorrow.
Bid him not be alarmed, for all will soon be right again. Elude his
questions as much as possible; do not stay long, and come to me on your

At precisely eleven o'clock I reached the residence of Barras, in General

Bonaparte's carriage. Solitude and silence prevailed in all the
apartments through which I passed to Barras' cabinet. Bonaparte was
announced, and when Barras saw me enter instead of him, he manifested the
greatest astonishment and appeared much cast down. It was easy to
perceive that he looked on himself as a lost man. I executed my
commission, and stayed only a short time. I rose to take my leave, and
he said, while showing me out, "I see that Bonaparte is deceiving me: he
will not come again. He has settled everything; yet to me he owes all."
I repeated that he would certainly come tomorrow, but he shook his head
in a way which plainly denoted that he did not believe me. When I gave
Bonaparte an account of my visit he appeared much pleased. He told me
that Joseph was going to call that evening on Bernadotte, and to ask him
to come tomorrow. I replied that, from all I knew, he would be of no use
to him. "I believe so too," said he; "but he can no longer injure me,
and that is enough. Well, good-night; be here at seven in the morning."
It was then one o'clock.

I was with him a little before seven o'clock on the morning of the 18th
Brumaire, and on my arrival I found a great number of generals and
officers assembled. I entered Bonaparte's chamber, and found him already
up--a thing rather unusual with him. At this moment he was as calm as on
the approach of a battle. In a few moments Joseph and Bernadotte
arrived. Joseph had not found him at home on the preceding evening, and
had called for him that morning. I was surprised to see Bernadotte in
plain clothes, and I stepped up to him and said in a low voice, "General,
every one here, except you and I, is in uniform."--" Why should I be in
uniform?" said he. As he uttered these words Bonaparte, struck with the
same surprise as myself, stopped short while speaking to several persons
around him, and turning quickly towards Bernadotte said, "How is this?
you are not in uniform!"--"I never am on a morning when I am not on
duty," replied Bernadotte.--"You will be on duty presently."--" I have
not heard a word of it: I should have received my orders sooner."

Bonaparte then led Bernadotte into an adjoining room. Their conversation

was not long, for there was no time to spare.

On the other hand, by the influence of the principal conspirators the

removal of the legislative body to St. Cloud was determined on the
morning of the 18th Brumaire, and the command of the army was given to

All this time Barras was no doubt waiting for Bonaparte, and Madame
Bonaparte was expecting Gohier to breakfast. At Bonaparte's were
assembled all the general's who were devoted to him. I never saw so
great a number before in the Rue de la Victoire. They were all, except
Bernadotte, in full uniform; and there were, besides, half a dozen
persons there initiated in the secrets of the day. The little hotel of
the conqueror of Italy was much too small for such an assemblage, and
several persons were standing in the court-yard. Bonaparte was
acquainted with the decree of the Council of the Ancients, and only
waited for its being brought to him before he should mount his horse.
That decree was adopted in the Council of the Ancients by what may be
called a false majority, for the members of the Council were summoned at
different hours, and it was so contrived that sixty or eighty of them,
whom Lucien and his friends had not been able to gain over, should not
receive their notices in time.

As soon as the message from the Council of the Ancients arrived Bonaparte
requested all the officers at his house to follow him. At that
announcement a few who were in ignorance of what was going on did not
follow--at least I saw two groups separately leave the hotel. Bernadotte
said to me, "I shall stay with you." I perceived there was a good deal
of suspicion in his manner. Bonaparte, before going down the stairs
which led from the small round dining-room into the courtyard, returned
quickly to bid Bernadotte follow him. He would not, and Bonaparte then
said to me, while hurrying off, "Gohier is not come--so much the worse
for. him," and leaped on his horse. Scarcely was he off when Bernadotte
left me. Josephine and I being now left alone; she acquainted me with
her anxiety. I assured her that everything bad been so well prepared
that success was certain. She felt much interest about Gohier on account
of her friendship for his wife. She asked me whether I was well
acquainted with Gohier. "You know, Madame," replied I, "that we have
been only twenty days in Paris, and that during that time I have only
gone out to sleep in the Rue Martel. I have seen M. Gohier several
times, when he came to visit the General, and have talked to him about
the situation of our affairs in Switzerland, Holland, France, and other
political matters, but I never exchanged a word with him as to what is
now going on. This is the whole extent of my acquaintance with him."

"I am sorry for it," resumed Josephine, "because I should have asked you
to write to him, and beg him to make no stir, but imitate Sieyes and
Roger, who will voluntarily retire, and not to join Barras, who is
probably at this very moment forced to do so. Bonaparte has told me that
if Gohier voluntarily resigns, he will do everything for him." I believe
Josephine communicated directly with the President of the Directory
through a friend of Madame Gohier's.

Gohier and Moulins, no longer depending on Sieyes and Roger Ducos, waited
for their colleague, Barras, in the hall of the Directory, to adopt some
measure on the decree for removing the Councils to St. Cloud. But they
were disappointed; for Barras, whose eyes had been opened by my visit on
the preceding night, did not join them. He had been invisible to his
colleagues from the moment that Bruix and M. de Talleyrand had informed
him of the reality of what he already suspected; and insisted on his

On the 18th Brumaire a great number of military, amounting to about

10,000 men, were assembled in the gardens of the Tuileries, and were
reviewed by Bonaparte, accompanied by Generals Beurnonville, Moreau, and
Macdonald. Bonaparte read to them the decree just issued by the
commission of inspectors of the Council of the Ancients, by which the
legislative body was removed to St. Cloud; and by which he himself was
entrusted with the execution of that decree, and appointed to the command
of all the military force in Paris, and afterwards delivered an address
to the troops.
Whilst Bonaparte was haranguing the soldiers, the Council of the Ancients
published an address to the French people, in which it was declared that
the seat of the legislative body was changed, in order to put down the
factions, whose object was to control the national representation.

While all this was passing abroad I was at the General's house in the Rue
de la Victoire; which I never left during the whole day. Madame
Bonaparte and I were not without anxiety in Bonaparte's absence.
I learned from Josephine that Joseph's wife had received a visit from
Adjutant-General Rapatel, who had been sent by Bonaparte and Moreau to
bring her husband to the Tuileries. Joseph was from home at the time,
and so the message was useless. This circumstance, however, awakened
hopes which we had scarcely dared to entertain. Moreau was then in
accordance with Bonaparte, for Rapatel was sent in the name of both
Generals. This alliance, so long despaired of, appeared to augur
favourably. It was one of Bonaparte's happy strokes. Moreau, who was a
slave to military discipline, regarded his successful rival only as a
chief nominated by the Council of the Ancients. He received his orders
and obeyed them. Bonaparte appointed him commander of the guard of the
Luxembourg, where the Directors were under confinement. He accepted the
command, and no circumstance could have contributed more effectually to
the accomplishment of Bonaparte's views and to the triumph of his

At length Bonaparte, whom we had impatiently expected, returned.

Almost everything had gone well with him, for he had had only to do with
soldiers. In the evening he said to me, "I am sure that the committee of
inspectors of the hall are at this very moment engaged in settling what
is to be done at St. Cloud to-morrow. It is better to let them decide
the matter, for by that means their vanity is flattered. I will obey
orders which I have myself concerted." What Bonaparte was speaking of
had been arranged nearly two or three days previously. The committee of
inspectors was under the influence of the principal conspirators.

In the evening of this anxious day, which was destined to be succeeded by

a stormy morrow, Bonaparte, pleased with having gained over Moreau, spoke
to me of Bernadotte's visit in the morning.--"I saw," said he, "that you
were as much astonished as I at Bernadotte's behaviour. A general out of
uniform! He might as well have come in slippers. Do you know what
passed when I took him aside? I told him all; I thought that the best
way. I assured him that his Directory was hated, and his Constitution
worn out; that it was necessary to turn them all off, and give another
impulse to the government. 'Go and put on your uniform said I: I cannot
wait for you long. You will find me at the Tuileries, with the rest of
our comrades. Do not depend on Moreau, Beurnonville, or the generals of
your party. When you know them better you will find that they promise
much but perform little. Do not trust them.' Bernadotte then said that
he would not take part in what he called a rebellion. A rebellion!
Bourrienne, only think of that! A set of imbeciles, who from morning to
night do nothing but debate in their kennels! But all was in vain. I
could not move Bernadotte. He is a bar of iron. I asked him to give me
his word that he would do nothing against me; what do you think was his
answer?"--"Something unpleasant, no doubt."--" Unpleasant! that is too
mild a word. He said, 'I will remain quiet as a citizen; but if the
Directory order me to act, I will march against all disturbers.' But I
can laugh at all that now. My measures are taken, and he will have no
command. However, I set him at ease as to what would take place.
I flattered him with a picture of private life, the pleasures of the
country, and the charms of Malmaison; and I left him with his head full
of pastoral dreams. In a word, I am very well satisfied with my day's
work. Good-night, Bourrienne; we shall see what will turn up to-morrow."

On the 19th I went to St. Cloud with my friend La Vallette. As we passed

the Place Louis XV., now Louis XVI., he asked me what was doing, and what
my opinion was as to the coming events? Without entering into any detail
I replied, "My friend, either we shall sleep tomorrow at the Luxembourg,
or there will be an end of us." Who could tell which of the two things
would happen! Success legalised a bold enterprise, which the slightest
accident might have changed into a crime.

The sitting of the Ancients, under the presidency of Lemercier, commenced

at one o'clock. A warm discussion took place upon the situation of
affairs, the resignation of the members of the Directory, and the
immediate election of others. Great heat and agitation prevailed during
the debate. Intelligence was every minute carried to Bonaparte of what
was going forward, and he determined to enter the hall and take part in
the discussion. He entered in a hasty and angry way, which did not give
me a favourable foreboding of what he was about to say. We passed
through a narrow passage to the centre of the hall; our backs were turned
to the door. Bonaparte had the President to his right. He could not see
him full in the face. I was close to the General on his right. Berthier
was at his left.

All the speeches which have been subsequently passed off as having been
delivered by Bonaparte on this occasion differ from each other; as well
they may, for he delivered none to the Ancients, unless his confused
conversation with the President, which was alike devoid of dignity and
sense, is to be called a speech. He talked of his "brothers in arms" and
the "frankness of a soldier." The questions of the President followed
each other rapidly: they were clear; but it is impossible to conceive
anything more confused or worse delivered than the ambiguous and
perplexed replies of Bonaparte. He talked without end of "volcanoes;
secret agitations, victories, a violated constitution! "He blamed the
proceedings of the 18th Fructidor, of which he was the first promoter and
the most powerful supporter. He pretended to be ignorant of everything
until the Council of Ancients had called him to the aid of his country.
Then came "Caesar--Cromwell--tyrant!" and he several times repeated,
"I have nothing more to say to you!" though, in fact, he had said
nothing. He alleged that he had been called to assume the supreme
authority, on his return from Italy, by the desire of the nation, and
afterwards by his comrades in arms. Next followed the words "liberty-
equality!" though it was evident he had not come to St. Cloud for the
sake of either. No sooner did he utter these words, than a member of the
Ancients, named, I think, Linglet, interrupting him, exclaimed, "You
forget the Constitution!" His countenance immediately lighted up; yet
nothing could be distinguished but, "The 18th Fructidor--the 30th
Prairial--hypocrites--intriguers--I will disclose all!--I will resign my
power, when the danger which threatens the Republic shall have passed

Bonaparte, believing all his assertions to be admitted as proved, assumed

a little confidence, and accused the two directors Barras and Moulins of
having proposed to put him at the head of a party whose object was to
oppose all men professing liberal ideas.

At these words, the falsehood of which was odious, a great tumult arose
in the hall. A general committee was loudly called for to hear the
disclosures. "No, no!" exclaimed others, "no general committee!
conspirators have been denounced: it is right that France should know

Bonaparte was then required to enter into the particulars of his

accusation against Barras and Moulins, and of the proposals which had
been made to him: "You must no longer conceal anything."

Embarrassed by these interruptions and interrogatories Bonaparte believed

that he was completely lost. Instead of giving an explanation of what he
had said, he began to make fresh accusations; and against whom? The
Council of the Five Hundred, who, he said, wished for "scaffolds,
revolutionary committees, and a complete overthrow of everything."

Violent murmurs arose, and his language became more and more incoherent
and inconsequent. He addressed himself at one moment to the
representatives of the people, who were quite overcome by astonishment;
at another to the military in the courtyard, who could not hear him.
Then, by an unaccountable transition, he spoke of "the thunderbolts of
war!" and added, that he was "attended by the God of war and the God of

The President, with great calmness, told him that he saw nothing,
absolutely nothing, upon which the Council could deliberate; that there
was vagueness in all he had said. "Explain yourself; reveal the plot
which you say you were urged to join."

Bonaparte repeated again the same things. But only those who were
present can form any idea of his manner. There was not the slightest
connection in what he stammered out. Bonaparte was then no orator. It
may well be supposed that he was more accustomed to the din of war than
to the discussions of the tribunes. He was more at home before a battery
than before a President's chair.

Perceiving the bad effect which this unconnected babbling produced on the
assembly, as well as the embarrassment of Bonaparte, I said, in a low
voice, pulling him gently by the skirt of his coat, "withdraw, General;
you know not what you are saying." I made signs to Berthier, who was on
his left, to second me in persuading him to leave the hall; and all at
once, after having stammered out a few more, words, he turned round
exclaiming, "Let those who love me follow me!" The sentinels at the door
offered no opposition to his passing. The person who went before him
quietly drew aside the tapestry which concealed the door, and General
Bonaparte leaped upon his horse, which stood in the court-yard. It is
hard to say what would have happened if, on seeing the General retire,
the President had said, "Grenadiers, let no one pass!" Instead of
sleeping next day at the Luxembourg he would, I am convinced, have ended
his career on the Place de la Revolution.



The two Councils--Barras' letter--Bonaparte at the Council of the

Five Hundred--False reports--Tumultuous sitting--Lucien's speech--
He resigns the Presidency of the Council of the Five Hundred--He is
carried out by grenadiers--He harangues the troops--A dramatic scene
--Murat and his soldiers drive out the Five Hundred--Council of
Thirty--Consular commission--Decree--Return to Paris--Conversation
with Bonaparte and Josephine respecting Gohier and Bernadotte--The
directors Gohier and Moulins imprisoned.

The scene which occurred at the sitting of the Council of the Ancients
was very different from that which passed outside. Bonaparte had
scarcely reached the courtyard and mounted his horse when cries of "Vive
Bonaparte!" resounded on all sides. But this was only a sunbeam between
two storms. He had yet to brave the Council of the Five Hundred, which
was far more excited than the Council of the Ancients. Everything tended
to create a dreadful uncertainty; but it was too late to draw back. We
had already staked too heavily. The game was desperate, and everything
was to be ventured. In a few hours all would be determined.

Our apprehensions were not without foundation. In the Council of the

Five Hundred agitation was at its height. The most serious alarm marked
its deliberations. It had been determined to announce to the Directory
the installation of the Councils, and to inquire of the Council of the
Ancients their reasons for resolving upon an extraordinary convocation.
But the Directory no longer existed. Sieyes and Roger Ducos had joined
Bonaparte's party. Gohier and Moulins were prisoners in the Luxembourg,
and in the custody of General Moreau; and at the very moment when the
Council of the Five Hundred had drawn up a message to the Directory, the
Council of the Ancients transmitted to them the following letter,
received from Barras. This letter; which was addressed to the Council of
the Ancients, was immediately read by Lucien Bonaparte, who was President
of the Council of the Five Hundred.

CITIZEN PRESIDENT--Having entered into public affairs solely from my

love of liberty, I consented to share the first magistracy of the
State only that I might be able to defend it in danger; to protect
against their enemies the patriots compromised in its cause; and to
ensure to the defenders of, their country that attention to their
interests which no one was more calculated to feel than a citizen,
long the witness of their heroic virtues, and always sensible to
their wants.

The glory which accompanies the return of the illustrious warrior to

whom I had the honour of opening the path of glory, the striking
marks of confidence given him by the legislative body, and the
decree of the National Convention, convince me that, to whatever
post he may henceforth be called, the dangers to liberty will be
averted, and the interests of the army ensured.

I cheerfully return to the rank of a private citizen: happy, after

so many storms, to resign, unimpaired, and even more glorious than
ever, the destiny of the Republic, which has been, in part,
committed to my care.
(Signed) BARRAS.

This letter occasioned a great sensation in the Council of the Five

Hundred. A second reading was called far, and a question was started,
whether the retirement was legal, or was the result of collusion, and of
the influence of Bonaparte's agents; whether to believe Barras, who
declared the dangers of liberty averted, or the decree for the removal of
the legislative corps, which was passed and executed under the pretext of
the existence of imminent peril? At that moment Bonaparte appeared,
followed by a party of grenadiers, who remained at the entrance of the

I did not accompany him to the Council of the Five Hundred. He had
directed me to send off an express to ease the apprehensions of
Josephine, and to assure her that everything would go well. It was some
time before I joined him again.

However, without speaking as positively as if I had myself been an eye-

witness of the scene, I do not hesitate to declare that all that has been
said about assaults and poniards is pure invention. I rely on what was
told me, on the very night, by persons well worthy of credit, and who
were witnessess of all that passed.

As to what passed at the sitting, the accounts, given both at the time
and since, have varied according to opinions. Some have alleged that
unanimous cries of indignation were excited by the appearance of the
military. From all parts of the hall resounded, "The sanctuary of the
laws is violated. Down with the tyrant!--down with Cromwell!--down with
the Dictator! "Bonaparte stammered out a few words, as he had done
before the Council of the Ancients, but his voice was immediately drowned
by cries of "Vive la Republique!" "Vive la Constitution!" "Outlaw the
Dictator!" The grenadiers are then said to have rushed forward,
exclaiming, "Let us save our General!" at which indignation reached its
height, and cries, even more violent than ever, were raised; that
Bonaparte, falling insensible into the arms of the grenadiers, said,
"They mean to assassinate me!" All that regards the exclamations and
threats I believe to be correct; but I rank with the story of the
poniards the assertion of the members of the Five Hundred being provided
with firearms, and the grenadiers rushing into the hall; because
Bonaparte never mentioned a word of anything of the sort to me, either on
the way home, or when I was with him in his chamber. Neither did he say
anything on the subject to his wife, who had been extremely agitated by
the different reports which reached her.

After Bonaparte left the Council of the Five Hundred the deliberations
were continued with great violence. The excitement caused by the
appearance of Bonaparte was nothing like subsided when propositions of
the most furious nature were made. The President, Lucien, did all in his
power to restore tranquillity. As soon as he could make himself heard he
said, "The scene which has just taken place in the Council proves what
are the sentiments of all; sentiments which I declare are also mine. It
was, however, natural to believe that the General had no other object
than to render an account of the situation of affairs, and of something
interesting to the public. But I think none of you can suppose him
capable of projects hostile to liberty."

Each sentence of Lucien's address was interrupted by cries of "Bonaparte

has tarnished his glory! He is a disgrace to the Republic!"

--[The next younger brother of Napoleon, President of the Council of
the Five Hundred in 1799; Minister of the Interior, 1st December
1799 to 1841; Ambassador in Spain, 1801 to December 1801; left
France in disgrace in 1804; retired to Papal States; Prisoner in
Malta and England, 1810 to 1814; created by Pope in 1814 Prince de
Canino and Duc de Musignano; married firstly, 1794, Christine Boyer,
who died 1800; married secondly, 1802 or 118, a Madame Jonberthon.
Of his part in the 18th Brumaire Napoleon said to him in 1807,
"I well know that you were useful to me en the 18th Brumaire, but it
is not so cleat to me that you saved me then" (Iung's Lucien, tome
iii. p.89).]--

made fresh efforts to be heard, and wished to be allowed to address the

assembly as a member of the Council, and for that purpose resigned the
Presidentship to Chasal. He begged that the General might be introduced
again and heard with calmness. But this preposition was furiously
opposed. Exclamations of "Outlaw Bonaparte! outlaw him!" rang through
the assembly, and were the only reply given to the President. Lucien,
who had reassumed the President's chair, left it a second time, that he
might not be constrained to put the question of outlawry demanded against
his brother. Braving the displeasure of the assembly, he mounted the
tribune, resigned the Presidentship, renounced his seat as a deputy, and
threw aside his robes.

Just as Lucien left the Council I entered. Bonaparte, who was well
informed of all that was passing,

--[Lucien distinctly states that he himself, acting within his right

as President, had demanded an escort of the grenadiers of the
Councils as soon as he saw his withdrawal might be opposed.
Then the first entry of the soldiers with Napoleon would be illegal.
The second, to withdraw Lucien, was nominally legal (see Iung's
Lucien, tome i, pp, 318-322)]--

had sent in soldiers to the assistance of his brother; they carried him
off from the midst of the Council, and Bonaparte thought it a matter of
no little importance to have with him the President of an assembly which
he treated as rebellious. Lucien was reinstalled in office; but he was
now to discharge his duties, not in the President's chair, but on
horseback, and at the head of a party of troops ready to undertake
anything. Roused by the danger to which both his brother and himself
were exposed he delivered on horseback the following words, which can
never be too often remembered, as showing what a man then dared to say,
who never was anything except from the reflection of his brother's

CITIZENS! SOLDIERS!--The President of the Council of the Five

Hundred declares to you that the majority of that Council is at this
moment held in terror by a few representatives of the people, who
are armed with stilettoes, and who surround the tribune, threatening
their colleagues with death, and maintaining most atrocious

I declare to you that these brigands, who are doubtless in the pay
of England, have risen in rebellion against the Council of the
Ancients, and have dared to talk of outlawing the General, who is
charged with the execution of its decree, as if the word "outlaw"
was still to be regarded as the death-warrant of persons most
beloved by their country.

I declare to you that these madmen have outlawed themselves by their

attempts upon the liberty of the Council. In the name of that
people, which for so many years have been the sport of terrorism,
I consign to you the charge of rescuing the majority of their
representatives; so that, delivered from stilettoes by bayonets,
they may deliberate on the fate of the Republic.
General, and you, soldiers, and you, citizens, you will not
acknowledge, as legislators of France, any but those who rally round
me. As for those who remain in the orangery, let force expel
them. They are not the representatives of the people, but the
representatives of the poniard. Let that be their title, and let it
follow them everywhere; and whenever they dare show themselves to
the people, let every finger point at them, and every tongue
designate them by the well-merited title of representatives of the

Vive la Republique!

Notwithstanding the cries of "Vive Bonaparte!" which followed this

harangue, the troops still hesitated. It was evident that they were not
fully prepared to turn their swords against the national representatives.
Lucien then drew his sword, exclaiming, "I swear that I will stab my own
brother to the heart if he ever attempt anything against the liberty of
Frenchmen." This dramatic action was perfectly successful; hesitation
vanished; and at a signal given by Bonaparte, Murat, at the head of his
grenadiers, rushed into the hall, and drove out the representatives.
Everyone yielded to the reasoning of bayonets, and thus terminated the
employment of the armed force on that memorable day.

At ten o'clock at night the palace of St. Cloud, where so many tumultuous
scenes had occurred, was perfectly tranquil. All the deputies were still
there, pacing the hall, the corridors, and the courts. Most of them had
an air of consternation; others affected to have foreseen the event, and
to appear satisfied with it; but all wished to return to Paris, which
they could not do until a new order revoked the order for the removal of
the Councils to St. Cloud.

At eleven o'clock Bonaparte, who had eaten nothing all day, but who was
almost insensible to physical wants in moments of great agitation, said
to me, "We must go and write, Bourrienne; I intend this very night to
address a proclamation to the inhabitants of Paris. To-morrow morning I
shall be all the conversation of the capital." He then dictated to me
the following proclamation, which proves, no less than some of his
reports from Egypt, how much Bonaparte excelled in the art of twisting
the truth to own advantage:


19th Brumaire, 11 o'clock, p.m.

Frenchmen!--On my return to France I found division reigning amongst

all the authorities. They agreed only on this single point, that
the Constitution was half destroyed, and was unable to protect

Each party in turn came to me, confided to me their designs,

imparted their secrets, and requested my support. I refused to be
the man of a party.

The Council of the Ancients appealed to me. I answered their

appeal. A plan of general restoration had been concerted by men
whom the nation has been accustomed to regard as the defenders of,
liberty, equality, and property. This plan required calm and free
deliberation, exempt from all influence and all fear. The Ancients,
therefore, resolved upon the removal of the legislative bodies to
St. Cloud. They placed at my disposal the force necessary to secure
their independence. I was bound, in duty to my fellow-citizens, to
the soldiers perishing in our armies, and to the national glory,
acquired at the cost of so much blood, to accept the command.

The Councils assembled at St. Cloud. Republican troops guaranteed

their safety from without, but assassins created terror within.
Many members of the Council of the Five Hundred, armed with
stilettoes and pistols, spread menaces of death around them.

The plans which ought to have been developed were withheld. The
majority of the Council was rendered inefficient; the boldest
orators were disconcerted, and the inutility of submitting any
salutary proposition was quite evident.

I proceeded, filled with indignation and grief, to the Council of

the Ancients. I besought them to carry their noble designs into
execution. I directed their attention to the evils of the nation,
which were their motives for conceiving those designs. They
concurred in giving me new proofs of their uniform goodwill, I
presented myself before the Council of the Five Hundred, alone,
unarmed, my head uncovered, just as the Ancients had received and
applauded me. My object was to restore to the majority the
expression of its will, and to secure to it its power.

The stilettoes which had menaced the deputies were instantly raised
against their deliverer. Twenty assassins rushed upon me and aimed
at my breast. The grenadiers of the legislative body, whom I had
left at the door of the hall, ran forward, and placed themselves
between me and the assassins. One of these brave grenadiers (Thome)
had his clothes pierced by a stiletto. They bore me off.

--[Thome merely had a small part of his coat torn by a deputy,

who took him by the collar. This constituted the whole of the
attempted assassinations of the 19th Brumaire.--Bourrienne]--

At the same moment cries of "Outlaw him!" were raised against the
defender of the law. It was the horrid cry of assassins against the
power destined to repress them.

They crowded round the President, uttering threats. With arms in

their hands they commanded him to declare "the outlawry." I was
informed of this. I ordered him to be rescued from their fury, and
six grenadiers of the legislative body brought him out. Immediately
afterwards some grenadiers of the legislative body charged into the
hall and cleared it.

The factions, intimidated, dispersed and fled. The majority, freed

from their assaults, returned freely and peaceably into the hall;
listened to the propositions made for the public safety,
deliberated, and drew up the salutary resolution which will become
the new and provisional law of the Republic.

Frenchmen, you doubtless recognise in this conduct the zeal of a

soldier of liberty, of a citizen devoted to the Republic.
Conservative, tutelary, and liberal ideas resumed their authority
upon the dispersion of the factions, who domineered in the Councils,
and who, in rendering themselves the most odious of men, did not
cease to be the most contemptible.
(Signed) BONAPARTE, General, etc.

The day had been passed in destroying a Government; it was necessary to

devote the night to framing a new one. Talleyrand, Raederer, and Sieyes
were at St. Cloud. The Council of the Ancients assembled, and Lucien set
himself about finding some members of the Five Hundred on whom he could
reckon. He succeeded in getting together only thirty; who, with their
President, represented the numerous assembly of which they formed part.
This ghost of representation was essential, for Bonaparte,
notwithstanding his violation of all law on the preceding day, wished to
make it appear that he was acting legally. The Council of the Ancients
had, however, already decided that a provisional executive commission
should be appointed, composed of three members, and was about to name the
members of the commission--a measure which should have originated with
the Five Hundred--when Lucien came to acquaint Bonaparte that his chamber
'introuvable' was assembled.

This chamber, which called itself the Council of the Five Hundred, though
that Council was now nothing but a Council of Thirty, hastily passed a
decree, the first article of which was as follows:

The Directory exists no longer; and the individuals hereafter named

are no longer members of the national representation, on account of
the excesses and illegal acts which they have constantly committed,
and more particularly the greatest part of them, in the sitting of
this morning.

Then follow the names of sixty-one members expelled.

By other articles of the same decree the Council instituted a provisional

commission, similar to that which the Ancients had proposed to appoint,
resolved that the said commission should consist of three members, who
should assume the title of Consuls; and nominated as Consuls Sieyes,
Roger Ducos, and Bonaparte. The other provisions of the nocturnal decree
of St. Cloud had for their object merely the carrying into effect those
already described. This nocturnal sitting was very calm, and indeed it
would have been strange had it been otherwise, for no opposition could be
feared from the members of the Five Hundred, who were prepared to concur
with Lucien. All knew beforehand what they would have to do. Everything
was concluded by three o'clock in the morning; and the palace of St.
Cloud, which had been so agitated since the previous evening, resumed in
the morning its wonted stillness, and presented the appearance of a vast

All the hurrying about, the brief notes which I had to write to many
friends, and the conversations in which I was compelled to take part,
prevented me from dining before one o'clock in the morning. It was not
till then that Bonaparte, having gone to take the oath as Consul before
the Five Hundred, afforded me an opportunity of taking some refreshment
with Admires Bruix and some other officers.

At three o'clock in the morning I accompanied Bonaparte, in his carriage

to Paris. He was extremely fatigued after so many trials and fatigues.
A new future was opened before him. He was completely absorbed in
thought, and did not utter a single word during the journey. But when he
arrived at his house in the Rue de la Victoire, he had no sooner entered
his chamber and wished good morning to Josephine, who was in bed, and in
a state of the greatest anxiety on account of his absence, than he said
before her, "Bourrienne, I said many ridiculous things?"--"Not so very
bad, General"--"I like better to speak to soldiers than to lawyers.
Those fellows disconcerted me. I have not been used to public
assemblies; but that will come in time."

We then began, all three, to converse. Madame Bonaparte became calm, and
Bonaparte resumed his wonted confidence. The events of the day naturally
formed the subject of our conversation. Josephine, who was much attached
to the Gohier family, mentioned the name of that Director in a tone of
kindness. "What would you have, my dear?" said Bonaparte to her. "It
is not my fault. He is a respectable man, but a simpleton. He does not
understand me!--I ought, perhaps, to have him transported. He wrote
against me to the Council of the Ancients; but I have his letter, and
they know nothing about it. Poor man! he expected me to dinner
yesterday. And this man thinks himself a statesman!--Speak no more of

During our discourse the name of Bernadotte was also mentioned. "Have
you seen him, Bourrienne?" said Bonaparte to me.--"No, General"--
"Neither have I. I have not heard him spoken of. Would you imagine it?
I had intelligence to-day of many intrigues in which he is concerned.
Would you believe it? he wished nothing less than to be appointed my
colleague in authority. He talked of mounting his horse and marching
with the troops that might be placed under his command. He wished, he
said, to maintain the Constitution: nay, more; I am assured that he had
the audacity to add that, if it were necessary to outlaw me, the
Government might come to him and he would find soldiers capable of
carrying the decree into execution."--"All this, General, should give you
an idea how inflexible his principles are."--"Yes, I am well aware of it;
there is something in that: he is honest. But for his obstinacy, my
brothers would have brought him over. They are related to him. His
wife, who is Joseph's sister-in-law, has ascendency over him. As for me,
have I not, I ask you, made sufficient advances to him? You have
witnessed them. Moreau, who has a higher military reputation than he,
came over to me at once. However, I repent of having cajoled Bernadotte.
I am thinking of separating him from all his coteries without any one
being able to find fault with the proceeding. I cannot revenge myself in
any other manner. Joseph likes him. I should have everybody against me.
These family considerations are follies! Goodnight, Bourrienne.--By the
way, we will sleep in the Luxembourg to-morrow."

I then left the General, whom, henceforth, I will call the First Consul,
after having remained with him constantly during nearly twenty-four
hours, with the exception of the time when he was at the Council of the
Five Hundred. I retired to my lodging, in the Rue Martel, at five
o'clock in the morning.

It is certain that if Gohier had come to breakfast on the morning of the

18th Brumaire, according to Madame Bonaparte's invitation, he would have
been one of the members of the Government. But Gohier acted the part of
the stern republican. He placed himself, according to the common phrase
of the time, astride of the Constitution of the year III.; and as his
steed made a sad stumble, he fell with it.

It was a singular circumstance which prevented the two Directors Gohier

and Moulins from defending their beloved Constitution. It was from their
respect for the Constitution that they allowed it to perish, because they
would have been obliged to violate the article which did not allow less
than three Directors to deliberate together. Thus a king of Castile was
burned to death, because there did not happen to be in his apartment men
of such rank as etiquette would permit to touch the person of the



General approbation of the 18th Brumaire--Distress of the treasury--

M. Collot's generosity--Bonaparte's ingratitude--Gohier set at
Liberty--Constitution of the year VIII.--The Senate, Tribunate, and
Council of State--Notes required on the character of candidates--
Bonaparte's love of integrity and talent--Influence of habit over
him--His hatred of the Tribunate--Provisional concessions--The first
Consular Ministry--Mediocrity of La Place--Proscription lists--
Cambaceres report--M. Moreau de Worms--Character of Sieyes--
Bonaparte at the Luxembourg--Distribution of the day and visits--
Lebrun's opposition--Bonaparte's singing--His boyish tricks--
Assumption of the titles "Madame" and "Monseigneur"--The men of the
Revolution and the partisans of the Bourbons--Bonaparte's fears--
Confidential notes on candidates for office and the assemblies.

It cannot be denied that France hailed, almost with unanimous voice,

Bonaparte's accession to the Consulship as a blessing of Providence.
I do not speak now of the ulterior consequences of that event; I speak
only of the fact itself, and its first results, such as the repeal of the
law of hostages, and the compulsory loan of a hundred millions.
Doubtless the legality of the acts of the 18th Brumaire may be disputed;
but who will venture to say that the immediate result of that day ought
not to be regarded as a great blessing to France? Whoever denies this
can have no idea of the wretched state of every branch of the
administration at that deplorable epoch. A few persons blamed the 18th
Brumaire; but no one regretted the Directory, with the exception,
perhaps, of the five Directors themselves. But we will say no more of
the Directorial Government. What an administration! In what a state
were the finances of France! Would it be believed? on the second day of
the Consulate, when Bonaparte wished to send a courier to General
Championet, commander-in-chief of the army of Italy, the treasury had not
1200 francs disposable to give to the courier!

It may be supposed that in the first moments of a new Government money

would be wanted. M. Collot, who had served under Bonaparte in Italy, and
whose conduct and administration deserved nothing but praise, was one of
the first who came to the Consul's assistance. In this instance
M. Collot was as zealous as disinterested. He gave the Consul 500,000
francs in gold, for which service he was badly rewarded. Bonaparte
afterwards behaved to M. Collot as though he was anxious to punish him
for being rich. This sum, which at the time made so fine an appearance
in the Consular treasury, was not repaid for a long time after, and then
without interest. This was not, indeed, the only instance in which
M. Collot had cause to complain of Bonaparte, who was never inclined to
acknowledge his important services, nor even to render justice to his
On the morning of the 20th Brumaire Bonaparte sent his brother Louis to
inform the Director Gohier that he was free. This haste in relieving
Gohier was not without a reason, for Bonaparte was anxious to install
himself in the Luxembourg, and we went there that same evening.

Everything was to be created. Bonaparte had with him almost the whole of
the army, and on the soldiers he could rely. But the military force was
no longer sufficient for him. Wishing to possess a great civil power
established by legal forms, he immediately set about the composition of a
Senate and Tribunate; a Council of State and a new legislative body, and,
finally, a new Constitution.

--[The Constitution of the year VIII. was presented an the 18th of

December 1799 (22d Frimaire, year VIII.), and accepted by the people
on the 7th of February 1800 (18th Pluviose, year VIII.). It
established a Consular Government, composed of Bonaparte, First
Consul, appointed for ten years; Cambaceres, Second Consol, also for
ten Years; and Lebrun, Third Consul appointed for five years. It
established a conservative Senate, a legislative body of 800
members, and a Tribunate composed of 100 members. The establishment
of the Council of State took place on the 29th of December 1799.
The installation of the new legislative body and the Tribunate was
fixed for the 1st of January 1800.--Bourrienne. Lanfrey (tome i.
p. 329) sees this Constitution foreshadowed in that proposed by
Napoleon in 1797 for the Cisalpine Republic.]--

As Bonaparte had not time to make himself acquainted with the persons by
whom he was about to be surrounded; he requested from the most
distinguished men of the period, well acquainted with France and the
Revolution, notes respecting the individuals worthy and capable of
entering the Senate, the Tribunate, and the Council of State. From the
manner in which all these notes were drawn up it was evident that the
writers of them studied to make their recommendation correspond with what
they conceived to be Bonaparte's views, and that they imagined he
participated in the opinions which were at that time popular.
Accordingly they stated, as grounds for preferring particular candidates,
their patriotism, their republicanism, and their having had seats in
preceding assemblies.

Of all qualities, that which most influenced the choice of the First
Consul was inflexible integrity; and it is but just to say that in this
particular he was rarely deceived. He sought earnestly for talent; and
although he did not like the men of the Revolution, he was convinced that
he could not do without them. He had conceived an extreme aversion for
mediocrity, and generally rejected a man of that character when
recommended to him; but if he had known such a man long, he yielded to
the influence of habit, dreading nothing so much as change, or, as he was
accustomed to say himself, new faces.'

--[Napoleon loved only men with strong passions and great weakness;
he judged the most opposite qualities in men by these defects
(Metternich, tome iii. p.589)]--

Bonaparte then proceeded to organise a complaisant Senate, a mute

legislative body, and a Tribunals which was to have the semblance of
being independent, by the aid of some fine speeches and high-sounding
phrases. He easily appointed the Senators, but it was different with the
Tribunats. He hesitated long before he fixed upon the candidates for
that body, which inspired him with an anticipatory fear. However, on
arriving at power he dared not oppose himself to the exigencies of the
moment, and he consented for a time to delude the ambitious dupes who
kept up a buzz of fine sentiments of liberty around him. He saw that
circumstances were not yet favourable for refusing a share in the
Constitution to this third portion of power, destined apparently to
advocate the interests of the people before the legislative body. But in
yielding to necessity, the mere idea of the Tribunate filled him with the
utmost uneasiness; and, in a word, Bonaparte could not endure the public
discussions on his projects.'

--[The Tribunate under this Constitution of the year VIII. was the
only body allowed to debate in public on proposed laws, the
legislative body simply hearing in silence the orators sent by the
Council of State and by the Tribunals to state reasons for or
against propositions, and then voting in silence. Its orators were
constantly giving umbrage to Napoleon. It was at first Purified,
early in 1802, by the Senate naming the members to go out in
rotation then reduced to from 100 to 50 members later in 1802, and
suppressed in 1807; its disappearance being regarded by Napoleon as
his last break with the Revolution.]--

Bonaparte composed the first Consular Ministry as follows: Berthier was

Minister of War; Gaudin, formerly employed in the administration of the
Post Office, was appointed Minister of Finance; Cambaceres remained
Minister of Justice; Forfait was Minister of Marine; La Place of the
Interior; Fouche of Police; and Reinhard of Foreign Affairs.

Reinhard and La Place were soon replaced, the former by the able M.
Talleyrand, the latter by Lucien Bonaparte.

--[When I quitted the service of the First Consul Talleyrand was

still at the head of the Foreign Department. I have frequently been
present at this great statesman's conferences with Napoleon, and I
can declare that I never saw him flatter his dreams of ambition;
but, on the contrary, he always endeavoured to make him sensible of
his true interests.--Bourrienne.]--

It maybe said that Lucien merely passed through the Ministry on his way
to a lucrative embassy in Spain. As to La Place, Bonaparte always
entertained a high opinion of his talents. His appointment to the
Ministry of the Interior was a compliment paid to science; but it was not
long before the First Consul repented of his choice. La Place, so
happily calculated for science, displayed the most inconceivable
mediocrity in administration. He was incompetent to the most trifling
matters; as if his mind, formed to embrace the system of the world, and
to interpret the laws of Newton and Kepler, could not descend to the
level of subjects of detail, or apply itself to the duties of the
department with which he was entrusted for a short, but yet, with regard
to him, too long a time.

On the 26th Brumaire (17th November 1799) the Consuls issued a decree,
in which they stated that, conformably with Article III. of the law of
the 19th of the same month, which especially charged them with the
reestablishment of public tranquillity, they decreed that thirty-eight
individuals, who were named, should quit the continental territory of the
Republic, and for that purpose should proceed to Rochefort, to be
afterwards conducted to, and detained in, the department of French
Guiana. They likewise decreed that twenty-three other individuals, who
were named, should proceed to the commune of Rochelle, in the department
of the lower Charente, in order to be afterwards filed and detained in
such part of that department as should be pointed out by the Minister of
General Police. I was fortunate enough to keep my friend M. Moreau de
Worms, deputy from the Youne, out of the fiat of exiles. This produced a
mischievous effect. It bore a character of wanton severity quite
inconsistent with the assurances of mildness and moderation given at St.
Cloud on the 19th Brumaire. Cambaceres afterwards made a report, in
which he represented that it was unnecessary for the maintenance of
tranquillity to subject the proscribed to banishment, considering it
sufficient to place them under the supervision of the superior police.
Upon receiving the report the Consuls issued a decree, in which they
directed all the individuals included in the proscription to retire
respectively into the different communes which should be fixed upon by
the Minister of Justice, and to remain there until further orders.

At the period of the issuing of these decrees Sieyes was still one of the
Consuls; conjointly with Bonaparte and Roger Ducos; and although
Bonaparte had, from the first moment, possessed the whole power of the
government, a sort of apparent equality was, nevertheless, observed
amongst them. It was not until the 25th of December that Bonaparte
assumed the title of First Consul, Cambaceres and Lebrun being then
joined in the office with him. He had fixed his eyes on them previously
to the 18th Brumaire, and he had no cause to reproach them with giving
him much embarrassment in his rapid progress towards the imperial throne.

I have stated that I was so fortunate as to rescue M. Moreau de Worms

from the list of proscription. Some days after Sieyes entered
Bonaparte's cabinet and said to him, "Well, this M. Moreau de Worms, whom
M. Bourrienne induced you to save from banishment, is acting very finely!
I told you how it would be! I have received from Sens, his native place,
a letter which informs me that Moreau is in that town, where he has
assembled the people in the market-place, and indulged in the most
violent declamations against the 18th Brumaire,"--"Can you, rely upon
your agent" asked Bonaparte.--"Perfectly. I can answer for the truth of
his communication." Bonaparte showed me the bulletin of Sieyes' agent,
and reproached me bitterly. "What would you say, General," I observed,
"if I should present this same M. Moreau de Worms, who is declaiming at
Sens against the 18th Brumaire, to you within an hour?"--"I defy you to
do it."--"I have made myself responsible for him, and I know what I am
about. He is violent in his politics; but he is a man of honour,
incapable of failing in his word."--" Well, we shall see. Go and find
him." I was very sure of doing what I had promised, for within an hour
before I had seen M. Moreau de Worms. He had been concealed since the
13th Brumaire, and had not quitted Paris. Nothing was easier than to
find him, and in three-quarters of an hour he was at the Luxembourg. I
presented him to Bonaparte, who conversed with him a long time concerning
the 18th Brumaire. When M. Moreau departed Bonaparte said to me, "You
are right. That fool Sieyes is as inventive as a Cassandra. This proves
that one should not be too ready to believe the reports of the wretches
whom we are obliged to employ in the police." Afterwards he added,
"Bourrienne, Moreau is a nice fellow: I am satisfied with him; I will do
something for him." It was not long before M. Moreau experienced the
effect of the Consul's good opinion. Some days after, whilst framing the
council of prizes, he, at my mere suggestion, appointed M. Moreau one of
the members, with a salary of 10,000 francs. On what extraordinary
circumstances the fortunes of men frequently depend! As to Sieyes, in
the intercourse, not very frequent certainly, which I had with him, he
appeared to be far beneath the reputation which he then--enjoyed.'
--[M. de Talleyrand, who is so capable of estimating men, and whose
admirable sayings well deserve to occupy a place in history, had
long entertained a similar opinion of Sieyes. One day, when he was
conversing with the Second Consul concerning Sieyes, Cambaceres said
to him. "Sieyes, however, is a very profound man."--"Profound?"
said Talleyrand. "Yes, he is, a cavity, a perfect cavity, as you
would say."--Bourrienne.]--

He reposed a blind confidence in a multitude of agents, whom he sent into

all parts of France. When it happened, on other occasions, that I proved
to him, by evidence as sufficient as that in the case of M. Moreau, the
falseness of the reports he had received, he replied, with a confidence
truly ridiculous, "I can rely on my men." Sieyes had written in his
countenance, "Give me money!" I recollect that I one day alluded to this
expression in the anxious face of Sieyes to the First Consul. "You are
right," observed he to me, smiling; "when money is in question, Sieyes is
quite a matter-of-fact man. He sends his ideology to the right about and
thus becomes easily manageable. He readily abandons his constitutional
dreams for a good round sum, and that is very convenient."

--[Everybody knows, in fact, that Sieyes refused to resign his

consular dignities unless he received in exchange a beautiful farm
situated in the park of Versailles, and worth about 15,000 livres a
year. The good abbe consoled himself for no longer forming a third
of the republican sovereignty by making himself at home in the
ancient domain of the kings of France.--Bourrienne.]--

Bonaparte occupied, at the Little Luxembourg, the apartments on the

ground floor which lie to the right on entering from the Rue de
Vaugirard. His cabinet was close to a private staircase, which conducted
me to the first floor, where Josephine dwelt. My apartment was above.

After breakfast, which was served at ten o'clock, Bonaparte would

converse for a few moments with his usual guests, that is to say, his
'aides de camp', the persons he invited, and myself, who never left him.
He was also visited very often by Deferment, Regnault (of the town of St.
Jean d'Angely), Boulay (de la Meurthe), Monge, and Berber, who were, with
his brothers, Joseph and Lucien, those whom he most delighted to see; he
conversed familiarly with them. Cambaceres generally came at mid-day,
and stayed some time with him, often a whole hour. Lebrun visited but
seldom. Notwithstanding his elevation, his character remained unaltered;
and Bonaparte considered him too moderate, because he always opposed his
ambitious views and his plans to usurp power. When Bonaparte left the
breakfast-table it was seldom that he did not add, after bidding
Josephine and her daughter Hortense good-day, "Come, Bourrienne, come,
let us to work."

After the morning audiences I stayed with Bonaparte all the day, either
reading to him, or writing to his dictation. Three or four times in the
week he would go to the Council. On his way to the hall of deliberation
he was obliged to cross the courtyard of the Little Luxembourg and ascend
the grand staircase. This always vexed him, and the more so as the
weather was very bad at the time. This annoyance continued until the
25th of December, and it was with much satisfaction that he saw himself
quit of it. After leaving the Council he used to enter his cabinet
singing, and God knows how wretchedly he sung! He examined whatever work
he had ordered to be done, signed documents, stretched himself in his
arm-chair, and read the letters of the preceding day and the publications
of the morning. When there was no Council he remained in his cabinet,
conversed with me, always sang, and cut, according to custom, the arm of
his chair, giving himself sometimes quite the air of a great boy. Then,
all at once starting up, he would describe a plan for the erection of a
monument, or dictate some of those extraordinary productions which
astonished and dismayed the world. He often became again the same man,
who, under the walls of St. Jean d'Acre, had dreamed of an empire worthy
his ambition.

At five o'clock dinner was served up. When that was over the First
Consul went upstairs to Josephine's apartments, where he commonly
received the visits of the Ministers. He was always pleased to see among
the number the Minister of Foreign Affairs, especially since the
portfolio of that department had been entrusted to the hands of M. de
Talleyrand. At midnight, and often sooner, he gave the signal for
retiring by saying in a hasty manner, "Allons nous coucher."

It was at the Luxembourg, in the salons of which the adorable Josephine

so well performed the honours, that the word 'Madame' came again into
use. This first return towards the old French politeness was startling
to some susceptible Republicans; but things were soon carried farther at
the Tuileries by the introduction of 'Votre Altesse' on occasions of
state ceremony, and Monseigneur in the family circle.

If, on the one hand, Bonaparte did not like the men of the Revolution, on
the other he dreaded still more the partisans of the Bourbons. On the
mere mention of the name of those princes he experienced a kind of inward
alarm; and he often spoke of the necessity of raising a wall of brass
between France and them. To this feeling, no doubt, must be attributed
certain nominations, and the spirit of some recommendations contained in
the notes with which he was supplied on the characters of candidates, and
which for ready reference were arranged alphabetically. Some of the
notes just mentioned were in the handwriting of Regnault de St. Jean
d'Angely, and some in Lucien Bonaparte's.

--[Among them was the following, under the title of "General

Observations": "In choosing among the men who were members of the
Constituent Assembly it is necessary to be on guard against the
Orleans' party, which is not altogether a chimera, and may one day
or other prove dangerous.

"There is no doubt that the partisans of that family are intriguing

secretly; and among many other proofs of this fact the following is
a striking one: the journal called the 'Aristargue', which
undisguisedly supports royalism, is conducted by a man of the name
of Voidel, one of the hottest patriots of the Revolution. He was
for several months president of the committee of inquiry which
caused the Marquis de Favras to be arrested and hanged, and gave so
much uneasiness to the Court. There was no one in the Constituent
Assembly more hateful to the Court than Voidel, so much on account
of his violence as for his connection with the Duke of Orleans,
whose advocate and counsel he was. When the Duke of Orleans was
arrested, Voidel, braving the fury of the revolutionary tribunals,
had the courage to defend him, and placarded all the walls of Paris
with an apology for the Duke and his two sons. This man, writing
now in favour of royalism, can have no other object than to advance
a member of the Orleans family to the throne."--Bourrienne.]--

At the commencement of the First Consul's administration, though he

always consulted the notes he had collected, he yet received with
attention the recommendations of persons with whom he was well
acquainted; but it was not safe for them to recommend a rogue or a fool.
The men whom he most disliked were those whom he called babblers, who are
continually prating of everything and on everything. He often said,--
"I want more head and less tongue." What he thought of the regicides will
be seen farther on, but at first the more a man had given a gage to the
Revolution, the more he considered him as offering a guarantee against
the return of the former order of things. Besides, Bonaparte was not the
man to attend to any consideration when once his policy was concerned.

As I have said a few pages back, on taking the government into his own
hands Bonaparte knew so little of the Revolution and of the men engaged
in civil employments that it was indispensably necessary for him to
collect information from every quarter respecting men and things. But
when the conflicting passions of the moment became more calm and the
spirit of party more prudent, and when order had been, by his severe
investigations, introduced where hitherto unbridled confusion had
reigned, he became gradually more scrupulous in granting places, whether
arising from newly-created offices, or from those changes which the
different departments often experienced. He then said to me,
"Bourrienne, I give up your department to you. Name whom you please for
the appointments; but remember you must be responsible to me."

What a list would have been which should contain the names of all the
prefects, sub-prefects, receivers-general, and other civil officers to
whom I gave places! I have kept no memoranda of their names; and indeed,
what advantage would there have been in doing so? It was impossible for
me to have a personal knowledge of all the fortunate candidates; but I
relied on recommendations in which I had confidence.

I have little to complain of in those I obliged; though it is true that,

since my separation from Bonaparte, I have seen many of them take the
opposite side of the street in which I was walking, and by that delicate
attention save me the trouble of raising my hat.

End of this Project Gutenberg Etext of The Memoirs of Napoleon--1799, v3

by Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne